What Would Schindler Say About Bill Nye’s ‘Extra’ People?

By David Klinghoffer Published on May 4, 2017

Last week I watched Schindler’s List on Netflix and was startled by a contrast with what I had been watching, just the day before, at the same place. In an episode of the Netflix series Bill Nye Saves the World, called “Earth’s People Problem,” Nye has an exchange with Johns Hopkins University bioethicist Travis Rieder. (I write about this more here.)

In the episode, Nye asks, “So, should we have policies that penalize people for having extra kids in the developed world?” Rieder says he is open to the idea — which I’ve called spiteful and inhuman — and Nye seems eager to get started. But what really stuck with me was Mr. Nye’s choice of words, describing human beings as “extra.”

Schindler’s Wish

These two shows on Netflix depict entirely opposite views of the world and of humans.

Contrast this with the deeply moving scene in Schindler’s List (inserted below). Oskar Schindler, played by Liam Neeson, was a Nazi industrialist and bon vivant who woke up to what was happening to the Jews and was unexpectedly galvanized to take action. Rather than protesting, which would have had no effect, he nevertheless risked his life, using a combination of charm, lies, flattery and bribes to buy and save lives. He pretended that these Jewish men, women and many children were “essential” to the war effort. He needed them, he claimed, to work in his factory. But for him, they would all have been murdered at Auschwitz. In this way, exhausting his own wealth, he rescued more than 1,100 Jews (including two, as my older daughter discovered the other day, with our family name — presumably distant cousins).

In the last scene, when the war has just ended, Schindler is saying goodbye. His “employees” present him with a ring, fashioned from dental fillings, inscribed with a saying from the Talmud: “Whoever saves a life is considered as if he saved an entire world.” He breaks down, crying that he could have saved more lives. Could have made more money to save them. Could have sold his car to the mass-murdering concentration camp commandant he paid off. He says that would have bought ten lives. He could have sold the gold Nazi Party lapel pin he wears throughout the movie. He berates himself, saying that would have saved two, or at least one life.

His Jewish accountant, played by Ben Kingsley, and others of his “workers” crowd around and embrace him. But he refuses to be consoled and weeps bitterly.



Nye and Rieder ‘Consider’ the ‘Extras’

Compare Schindler’s perspective with Nye and his blithe talk of Earth’s “people problem.” What to do, he wonders, about “extra kids,” these extraneous human beings.

Rieder and Nye “considering” the idea of punishing people who exceed a maximum allotted number of kids perfectly expresses the eugenicist ethic. It is totalitarian. We see where “Science,” in the hands of people like this, is trending. It’s the kind of thing that many in the March for Science, which Nye served as honorary co-chair, were protesting for. Clearly they were, or the March’s organizers wouldn’t have opted for Mr. Nye as their leader.

Ultimately, the debate we deal with here reduces to the question of what a human is, and whether a life matters intrinsically.

Bill Nye and Rachel Bloom can make laughingstocks of themselves with their sex dance video. That’s pathetic, creepy, but not threatening. I don’t see foresee Netflix signing up for another season of Saves the World, since even some folks sympathetic to Nye’s views aren’t thrilled by his persona as an entertainer (See “Bill Nye Spends Most of His New Netflix Show Yelling at the Audience” at Gizmodo).

We should take Dr. Rieder’s comments more seriously, though. The idea of punishing parents for bringing extra “emitters” into the world is spiteful, inhuman and frightening, because academics and “ethicists” aren’t dismissed out of hand for entertaining it.

The Value of Human Life

These two shows on Netflix depict wholly opposite views of the world and of humans.

Science does touch on the question, at least at its root. Ultimately, the debate about biological origins reduces to the question of what a human is, why a life matters, whether it matters intrinsically, whether a person reflects a designer’s care and purpose, or not.

There is some heavy science behind that debate, of course. But the ultimate meaning is about just that. The view that sees purpose and design in life supports a humane vision. The Darwinian and materialist view, advocated by Bill Nye, easily leads down a path to revived and rebranded eugenics. To hear it discussed so lightly — amid dumb gags and gyrating song-and-dance acts promoting transgenderism — is just obscene.


Adapted from EvolutionNews.org. Reprinted with permission.

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  • Gary

    Maybe Bill Nye is one of the “extras”. But I doubt he would agree. He probably thinks he is essential. When he talks about extra people, Nye is contradicting his materialist world-view in which the concept of extra people is nonsense. In order for there to actually be extra people, someone would have to determine that, and it isn’t Bill Nye. It would have to be whoever is in charge of determining how many people there should be; and in Nye’s world-view, no such person exists because there is no one who is directing evolution.

  • Timothy Horton

    BWAHAHAHAHA!! The Bozos at the Discovery Institute are still butt hurt and whining over Bill Nye. I guess they have lots of time to kill because they sure aren’t doing any science to support their IDiot claims. Too funny!

    • Gary

      What is the science to support Nye’s claim that there are “extra” people?

      • Timothy Horton

        The world population is 7.5 billion and still climbing rapidly. The carrying capacity of the planet for food production is estimated around 10 billion. We have a finite amount of natural resources. Sooner rather than later we’re going to hit the limits.

        • Jeannine

          Malthus, call your office.

        • Looks to me like you are already at yours…..

        • Nunyadambizness

          Right, and 100 years ago the planet couldn’t handle the population we have now and the eugenists were devising plans on how to rid the planet of “undesirables”–research Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger. Crop science has changed, and the volume of crops produced today could not have been imagined 100 years ago–when we were being told that we’re all going to starve–as late as the 1970’s. Check out “The Population Bomb” by Ehrlich, published in 1968

        • Gary

          You could help solve this problem by not having children, and by dying soon.

        • Coolant

          Exactly. Which is why today is the day of salvation. Don’t wait, before it’s too late

    • Charles Burge

      I think you confuse hand-wringing with jeering.

    • Patmos

      Adding bold font to your statements does not somehow imbue them with a point. It only begs the question: What exactly are you doing with your life?

      • Timothy Horton

        Helping defend science against attacks from slimy dishonest religious Fundies with an agenda of shoving their Biblical creation beliefs back into public school science classrooms.

        What are you doing out of your high school classes this time of the day?

        • Dee

          Now who is butt hurt! Oh! And Trump is president, bam! Do you think you could stop crying now.
          We know it’s hard sitting in your mom’s basement online being ugly all day.

          • Timothy Horton

            We know it’s hard sitting in your mom’s basement online being ugly all day

            You seem to manage it with no problems though. Must be all that practice.

          • Timothy Horton

            We know it’s hard sitting in your mom’s basement online being ugly all day.

            You seem to manage it with minimal effort. Must be all that practice.

          • Dee

            In the words of Paul Mr. Horton, stop listening to people who have turned their backs on the truth. Everything is pure to those whose heart’s are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because there minds and consciences are defiled. So I will not be listening / reading anything from you anymore, Paul said that people that turn their back on the truth are despicable, disobedient and worthless of doing anything good. I will be praying for you and God bless you!

        • Coolant

          nothing more than Ad Hominem attacks when faced with the reality of evidence toward a Creator….prima facie + Occum’s Razor

          • Timothy Horton

            It’s not an ad hom to point out dishonest and scientifically ignorant Creationists really are dishonest and scientifically ignorant.

      • Begging the question does NOT mean raising the question. It is a logical fallacy of assuming the premise in an argument you are trying to prove. People say this so often that it’s come to mean raising the question, but it doesn’t.

    • Coolant

      gene knockout experiments to prove irreducible complexity…real science. knockout any 1 of the proteins used to make many cellular machines causes them to non-function

      • Timothy Horton

        Sorry but science already knows how natural unguided evolution can produce IC systems. It happens through the processes of co-option (which evolution does all the time) and “scaffolding” where a redundant function evolves then is made IC by the evolutionary removal of the redundancy. See the work of geneticist Joe Thornton for real world examples. Stop getting your “science” from AIG and Chick tracts.

        • BrianJ

          The problem here is that you’re observing a working system and extrapolating the rest of “evolution” as fact. But like Richard Dawkins’ Mount Improbable, it’s one thing to say here’s the mountain and how we climb it, it’s another to figure out how we crossed Moat Impossible to get to it. Before you can even ramble about Thornton’s work and IC systems, you have to prove how those systems got here – and (drumroll) No – One – Has. Evolution continues to be the joke of the millennium.

          • Timothy Horton

            The problem here is that you’re observing a working system and extrapolating the rest of “evolution” as fact.

            No we’re not. There are literally thousands of independent lines of evidence supporting evolutionary theory. How IC structures form is just one more piece in the huge jigsaw puzzle. We have plenty enough of consilient interlocking pieces to determine the big picture of evolution over deep time.

            Young Earth Creationism has been thoroughly disproven. Creationists are the only big joke to the scientific community.

          • Gary

            You are a liar.

          • Timothy Horton

            LOL! You’re much worse than that. You’re a Gary. 😀

        • Gary

          Natural unguided evolution is not capable of producing ANYTHING. Things that work can only be produced by someone who is doing the guiding. If you understood the meaning of “unguided”, you might realize that your entire premise is impossible.

          • Timothy Horton

            It produced a gum-flapping dirt ignorant moron like you. Although I will admit it was a longshot that natural selection hasn’t removed you from the gene pool yet.

          • Gary

            Unguided evolution never produced anything because it can’t. Claiming it did is a fantasy of yours. Reality does not work that way. Only beings capable of thought can make selections. Nature has no such capability. It’s funny that you keep believing something that can’t be true. You must have a lot invested in your fantasy. Or giving it up would cost you too much.

          • Liz Litts

            Gary–don’t feed the troll

          • Len Hendershott

            I love your line “You must have a lot invested in your fantasy.” Has wide applicaability to Trump supporters.

  • Know this; Bill Nye is not a scientist, he just plays one on TV. That is reality. You see, science and B.S. rule the world. Real wisdom is in knowing the difference.

    • Timothy Horton

      Real wisdom is in knowing the difference.

      You fail that test big time.

  • Gary

    Stephen Hawking says that humans will have to move to another planet in order to survive. He says they have 100 years to leave earth. I don’t know what planet he suggests moving to, but Nye, Hawking, and others who believe what they do should consider being among the first to change planets.

    But, there is a little problem: there are no other planets that they can get to that are habitable. Hard luck.

    • Despicable REM1875 ✓certified

      Send them anyways – it is for science after all.

  • MikeInNorthernVa

    Bill Nye is a moron and a liberal. why does anybody listen to, or care about anything he says.

  • brewdogg_2001@yahoo.com

    The next thing they would say is that we need more immigrants to make up for population loss……

    • Despicable REM1875 ✓certified

      Would they be from Europe do you suppose?

  • Marc Carlson

    Bill Nye is simply a children’s entertainer with a bow tie. Nothing more.

  • Bob Toohey

    Jonathon Swift had a good idea on how to correct the surplus population..those extra Irish kids..in his “Modest Proposol”.

    • Despicable REM1875 ✓certified

      Sick as it is- he did it to slap the brits in the face.

  • the rein man

    It is always ironic how they never consider themselves as part of the “surplus population”. But, I would truly enjoy it if Bill Nye the pseudoscience guy showed up at my door because my number of children exceeded his limit. The second amendment is even better at limiting the surplus population than “scientismists” are.

  • Andy

    I don’t see the author offering up any alternatives to overpopulation problems. There are some, but I don’t see him exploring that, probably because they all involve one form or another of government control. Instead he just seems intent on labeling. “”Rieder and Nye “considering” the idea of punishing people who exceed a maximum allotted number of kids perfectly expresses the eugenicist ethic. It is totalitarian. “” is bs. If we can’t discuss the problem without being accused of being Nazis, then we will never have solutions.
    One of the aforementioned Solutions Is wealth equalization. Wealthy people have fewer children and in the United States the birth rate has dropped to near zero overall. But wealth equalization is not going to happen on its own, is it? Instead of labeling people who talk about solutions, why don’t you start talking about those solutions?

    • Rebel w/out a Cause

      “there are some”…. and?

      • Rebel w/out a Cause

        Oh – “wealth equalization’. Yeah. That’s the answer. Communism.

  • thinksmart

    The one overlooked fact about Nazi’s is the huge science experiments done on all Germany enemies. Interesting, science the all good world savers. You really want the science community to come up with the “solutions”??? If you travel around you will see vast available land. It’s not a people problem, it’s really a gluttony problem. How big are the estate(s) do the sky is falling people have?? Think about it.

  • greatnesslostislegend

    Bill Nye has become too close to the problem. New facts surface all the time, obviously this man is too busy crying the sky is falling to see what is really happening.

    Fact: At current pace it will take about 400 years to reach peak temps, that lasted for a span of 1400 years during this interglacial. Greenland ice core data.

    In 50 years 95 percent of new cars, trucks, and commercial vehicles will not run on oil products. All new power plants will not emit significant amount of C02.

    These will run cheaper and more efficient than today.

    Food production will more than double but pollute less.

    The first off world colonies will be established. Paid for by real estate sales, mining, and energy production.

    Inside of 400 years off world GDP will exceed Earths just as New World America’s colonization led North American GDP to exceed Europe’s over a similar time frame.

    This is inevitable given advances with tech in just the last 5 years.

    Nye is a dope . We need to chill. Let environments get their way, Musk types will be the first one to go on the altar of this religious dogma. This opening will be lost and Nye’s communist central planning will kill billions.

    • Claudius Gothicus

      You make a lot of interesting points, but I’m very skeptical of “off-world” colonies. Just where can these off-world colonies exist, and how can they be sustained?

      • greatnesslostislegend

        I have a model in my living room. Basically a large cylinder, multiple decks, large open area in the center. It turns on its axis to simulate gravity. Size varies from a 300,000 ton interplanetary craft, to ones north of a billion tons.

        Two moons of Mars can be exploited to provide materials and water for colonies. Based on 200 tons of infrastructure per person, just these two moons could support more than 60 billion people.

        Solar and nuke power. CANDU system. Ion thrusters, and coil magnetic drive.

        Large colonies having a diameter of 5 kilometers, 20 long. 20 decks each 50 meters apart, including structure. Inner open area 3 kilometers across by 18 long. Rear of this a heat sink water tank and dozens of CANDU reactors.

        85 percent of the closed in colony devoted to environmental support and food production. Living confined basicially to two inner decks covering 360 sq kilometers, plus the open “wild” area of 172. 18 larger decks adding about 12,000 sq kilometers of mostly farm land.

        Population density of about 2000 persons per sq kilometer on thise

  • roboteq

    The Progressive movement, of which Bill Nye is one of its elitists, has always dwelled on reducing the population of the world to which “flawed” humans, whether physically, socially or economically flawed, could be eradicated. This is the attitude of the early Twentieth Century American Communists (now referred to as Progressives) as they developed eugenics programs that resulted in Adolf Hitler’s human annihilation programs and Planned Parenthood in the U.S. This is the same attitude that, after eradicating malaria from the U.S., the means of eradicating malaria was made illegal so that millions of “extra” people in impoverished nations could perish from that disease.

  • theUSAparty

    Niger, Mali, Murundi, Somalia, Urganda the world’s highest fertility rate of over 6 children per woman; would it be wrong and could you support a VOLUNTEER program where women are paid $1 per day to not become pregnant with their first child until the age of 32 (the typical age of a new grandmother in these countries)? $1/day is more than the average wages in these countries and would be a tremendous boost when they start having children when they turn 32. If they become pregnant with their first child, they are removed from the program.

    • Michelle DeSelms

      How very elite of you to decide which countries can procreate and which cannot. You are part of the problem.

      • sotxoldfart

        Nye suggested “extra children” need to be limited in the developed world. Pretty much states their position.

      • theUSAparty

        Michelle DeSelms, So you would VOTE that it would be wrong….Maybe READ what is being said before you accuse. Can’t you read; do you know what a question mark means; betch? YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM for not allowing any discussion of possible solutions; I merely asked a question. Do you also see the word “VOLUNTEER” in bold print; that means if you want to have children before the age of 32, don’t be in the program and don’t take the money? That means people can procreate before the age of 32, but they won’t receive any money OR they can procreate after the age of 32. Maybe that concept is too difficult for you to grasp.

  • Christopher Johnson

    Ultimately, Schindler’s List presented the Nazi’s evil and Schindler’s Good the same way. As simply existential. It is poignantly without a cause for either. Nothing explains the difference, as if good and evil are just accidents. This unwillingness, or inability to distinguish is exactly what gives rise to notions like Nye’s.

  • Todd Pohlman

    To suggest that Nye is advocating eugenics is a such a stretch that it suggests to me that the author has issues. Nye and others, me included, understand that the only true threat to humanity is overpopulation. We can adapt to the of effects global warming, pollution, etc.. Even, in time and with wisdom, reverse the damage caused by them. But there’s no cure for too many people for this earth to sustain. The only ‘cure’ is to not overpopulate the world in the first place! What this has to do with the holocaust escapes me.

    • Freeordie

      The population bomb is a lie. That’s what you don’t understand.
      The Earth is a vast place, we barely live on a small percentage of it.
      We in the US produce enough food to feed the entire world and we aren’t even trying, other countries are beginning to catch up like Brazil and Russia which have vast farmlands.
      Overpopulation MAY be a problem 1,000 years in the future but by then we should have colonies in space whether at the Lagrange points or Mars or the Moon. And if we don’t it won’t matter since the population will have already been reduced.

      Bill Nye is just a leftist trying to control the people, if he cared about population problems he’d “encourage” third world countries not to have children as they are the ones having the most and who can’t take care of them.

      • ymhayuociotlc .

        There is a YouTube video called “What if everyone lived in one city?” They took the area with the highest population density and calculated how much space would be needed for the entire worlds population. Apparently everyone on the planet would fit in the Palestinian territories. So yea, there is plenty of space.

    • pop8660

      If what you say is true, then I say you should practice what you preach.

      You have no clue about what the earth can sustain.

      You obviously want YOUR space and the rest of the “extra” people are therefore to be eradicated.

      You hypocritical idiots are a dime a dozen.

  • Bill Nye is a phony and a fraud. The concept of “extra” people reminds me of another lie from the show “Man in the High Castle.” The Nazi’s son has some kind of genetic disease, and he’s come to see himself like all less than perfect people, as a “useless eater.” Extra is not too far from useless.

  • ObamatheIllinoisIdiot

    Bill Nye, the dogma guy, is a sham human.
    Bill Nye isn’t a scientist either: no training in science, no education in science, no experience in science. But what does that matter to a liberal?

    • Elie Challita

      You do realize that the guy is an engineer with multiple patents, right?

      • Bob Adome

        In STEM fields 2+2=4, or a square is not a circle, or why Ivory soap is 99% pure. Certain science fields need philosophy. A point of view from which you approach or expect an outcome. That is why many results can be made or forced to a desired outcome. For example, we all agree that the poor should be provided for. We just disagree on how and who should be involved in the process of providing it. Whether or not a program provides dependence or independence. Social SCIENTIST disagree on how it should be done.

  • Bob Adome

    “Demographic Winter”. Western nations consumed the over population rhetoric for a long time. Now the western death rate is higher than the birh rate. They perpetuate murder. Through encouraging violence, abortion, and euthenasia. Especially of those with whom they disagree.

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