Real Science with Bill Maher (Part 2)

Bill Maher gets Neil deGrasse Tyson to explain global warming to former GM Vice President Bob Lutz on “Real Time with Bill Maher” 3-2-12 ©2012 Home Box Office, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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About This Episode

According to co-host astrobiologist Dr. David Grinspoon, “Science thrives on controversy,” and in Part 2 of host Neil deGrasse Tyson’s interview with Bill Maher, controversy is definitely on the menu. From the value of dissent in scientific progress to the dangers of dishonest science fueled by hidden agendas, the trio address climate change, the death penalty, abortion, assisted suicide, legalization of marijuana, prostitution and whether science can inform morality laws. Believe it or not, Bill Maher actually takes a time out from attacking the Tea Party-led Republican war on science to actually say something nice about Republicans. Don’t worry, though – you’ll get plenty of opportunity to disagree with Bill, whichever side of the fence you’re on!

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Real Science with Bill Maher (Part 2).


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  • Alec

    I, for one, *do* only add vinegar to my salad.

    As long as it’s a nice balsamic.

  • Randy

    I dig. Another good look NDT! Dr. Grinspoon seems like another cool dude. 3 Cheers!

  • Helioprogenus

    Not every state funds gambling through education Bill. The State of Hawaii is very strict against gambling, and there is no form of gambling in that state. There must be other states as well.

    • Jeff

      Thank you for the correction, Helioprogenus. According to Wikipedia at the time of this response, the following states do not have their own lotteries or take part in multi-state lotteries: Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming.

  • Huy

    Republicans changed!

  • Carla Saganos

    I am a huge fan of both science and Neil but I was really saddened by the bigotry on your show featuring your interview with Bill Maher. First, the word “ho” denigrates women as a sex-linked class in the same way that the N word denigrates black people. Especially when it is being used by a white man in reference to women in the sex industry. No person can choose to be exploited. There is no empirical data ever, anywhere, that suggests that women are in the commercial sex industry because they have rabid vaginas and are sexually “loose” as the hurtful “ho” label suggests. The overwhelming majority of women in the commercial sex industry are economically displaced and desperate and are emotionally primed to be exploited through years of trauma and abuse from family and patriarchy in general. Referring to women in the industry as “hos” stigmatizes them, perpetuates the lie that most women are prostituted because they chose to rather than because they had few better choices under capitalist, white supremacist patriarchy. I’m really disappointed that this was just chuckled at and trivialized. I expected more of the show.

    Also, the focus on the time of life’s existence during a male-only debate on abortion is also concerning because it detracts from the real moral debate which is analyzing the forces that put women in a situation where they are desperate for last resort options like abortion. Please include women’s voices on this profoundly female issue.

  • Jessica

    Thank you. I enjoyed this podcast greatly. As always, deepest respect to you Dr. Tyson.

  • Jessica

    oh, and Bill Maher, too. 🙂

  • Hi Neil, enjoyed the show, but you missed a trick not asking Bill about his views on infectious disease and vaccinations. Less of a cosy chat maybe, but by doing so you might have helped me understand a bit more about what makes Republicans and others come to anti-science positions. D

  • Greg Black

    Hawaii may not have official gambling, but they have sweepstakes. Which is gambling without the buy in and in that way it’s legal.

  • Greg Black

    @Carla Saganos

    “Ho” is short for whore (wHOre <– Get it? ). Whore is short for prostitute.

    Any further meaning is simply your own opinion on the word(s) and in no way has anything to do with the definition.

  • John

    @Carla “Especially when it is being used by a white man” really? its funny that you condemn people for saying “ho” but yet you cannot see your own hate.

  • Thin-ice

    @John: Carla’s comment is a point of view. I didn’t see any “hate” displayed at all, unless you define “hate” as a point of view that is different from yours.

  • Thin-ice

    . . . and Carla is correct: there should be a female on the panel, not only because you really should have a female when talking about abortion, but also just to moderate some of the testosterone . . .

  • Carla Saganos

    First of all, I hope whoever is managing this takes note of the immediate attempts to shut down any sincere gendered criticisms from a female commentator. Second to the two folks who think they’re denting my concerns: The etymology of “ho”, the term itself, is not neutral but is infused with misogyny just as the N word is racially charged and used to negatively refer to many, many black people. Please give me directions to the island where you live Greg Black, where “ho” isn’t used to put down all sorts of women and where the majority of women like being called this word. The word is insulting on a personal level and on a political level. Even if the term was strictly used only to refer to women in the commercial sex industry, it is still deeply demeaning to these women. There may be women who like being referred to as such, but this is in the context of patriarchy…just as some black folk may not mind being called the N word, but this is in the context of a racially segregated society.

    By calling out the race of the man who used the term “ho” to refer to women in the sex industry, when the majority of these women are people of color and poor, is not “hate”. Especially when you don’t know what race I am (half white…and I don’t hate myself, my friends, my family or white people as a group) and moreover because it is illogical to conclude that critiquing a white man’s comments about a group of people who are largely of color and the opposite sex to emphasize the extra hurtfulness of the comment is pretty sensible…Like drawing the distinction between a person of color calling a fellow person of color the N word versus a white person calling a person of color the N word…which is a complex issue but there is a difference that makes the latter sting more given the history and current state of society…

    • Jeff

      Hi Carla. I’m Jeff, and I’m managing the replies. First of all, you seem to be doing just fine defending yourself (Thumbs up, by the way!) and I don’t think any of the comments have prevented you from doing just that. Second, while you or some of the commenters may be upset or offended by each other’s answers, I actually think the conversation here has remained pretty civil, though not entirely without attitude. (You should see some of the comments that do get edited. Then again, no you shouldn’t. That is my job.) Please, keep up the conversation, and continue to defend your point of view.

  • Nick

    Thank you for putting it so well. It’s a pity a clear explanation of why calling someone a whore is wrong *still* goes so far over some people’s heads.

  • Kyle

    Thanks Neil for all of these thought provoking radio shows. You are a great interviewer and always provide different angles of thinking about these universal topics. Can I please be your music supervisor? I have an astrophysics background if it helps.

    • Jeff

      Kyle, please send your resume and areas of interest to We’re collecting volunteers who say they’re interested in helping. And yes, an astrophysics background does help.

  • Glenn McGregor

    On the point about why Marijuana is illegal, I know publicly in politics it is said to be banned for health reasons but the actual reason goes back quite a ways. The reason Marijuana is illegal has little to do with health concerns and everything to do with cotton and paper industries. Marijuana is cultivated from hemp, and hemp is useful for far more than just the inhalation of chemicals. So it’s less prohibition and more of a trade law. As someone who never has (and never will) smoke marijuana, I can still support making it legal (as long as you tax it and standardize it/apply warnings). So long as smoking stays banned in restaurants and enclosed spaces and I can keep far away from the noxious fumes/smells, I don’t particularly care what people do even if I personally find it stupid.

  • Med student

    Was I the only one that felt that Dr. Grinspoon took a lot of what Bill said personally? Also, he really just kept talking about the same points, and I felt that he didn’t really contribute to the discussion as well as I was hoping for.
    He seems like a nice, reasonable man of science, but just a little too… “devil’s advocate”. Or maybe it’s just his time in Colorado exposed him to, and maybe even influenced him to shift his views to, a slightly more conservative outlook?

  • Tammy

    Hello Jeff and Neil,
    Just wanted to make a comment in reference to the discussion that government-funded scientists “aren’t in it for the money.” I wish you could be, but if it helps at all, it does matter to me that you’re doing what you can with what you have. I’m a 51 year old woman that has recently decided to get my Master’s Degree in Space Science. For what purpose, I don’t know yet…and I don’t know how I’ll be able to afford it past a couple quarters, but I’m starting soon with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. I only know for sure that I am inspired by Neil, and have been since first seeing him on Bill’s show (which I never miss). Life is hard, and it is wonderful to be excited by something that helps balance that out. Thank you Bill and Neil, and Jeff for taking the time to read my post.

    • Jeff

      You’re welcome, Tammy, and from all of us here at the show, “Go for it!”

  • Abby

    Neil and Jeff:
    Recently, the country was amazed by the story of a bullied bus monitor whose viral video led sympathizers to donate over $700,000 to give her a “vacation” (she ended up creating a charity with the money; if you haven’t heard the story, here is the indiegogo account that made it happen: ).
    Has NASA considered using one of these online fundraising sites to get the funds they need for future projects? Even if the US Government won’t fund NASA to fulfill its needs, I know that there are many citizens willing to step up and become part of the next great cosmic explorations. I am a poor, lowly math student, but would be happy to throw my spare pocket money into a pot that would allow us to see beyond new horizons in space. Social networking sites would surely help to spread the word. What do you think? Thanks for everything you do! I adore StarTalk Radio!!

    • Jeff

      Abby, thanks for your comment and your concern. While we are looking for corporate sponsors who share our mission to expand scientific literacy, we are not soliciting individual contributions – even though many of our fans have stepped up and volunteered to do so.

  • Jojo

    I have to agree with Med Student above on Dr Grinspoon-really he doesn’t have a problem with Religion being taught in Science Class? Med Student seems to think his time in colorado seem to shift his views, i disagree-I think he is idiot-yes there are such a thing-Scientists, lawyers and Politicians-GW Bush for example that are idiots.
    The Religion in Science class isn’t his only comment that off put me, there were more-had made shaking my head that no wonder the US citizens are so poorly versed in Science and as Bill Maher says in a modern Industrial Technological society choose to believe in a sky daddy that is also his own son. Wow.

  • Karl Laundy

    In regards to the religious intrusion on education my college biology professor at USC talked about creationism because he thought it was important to show what lousy science was. But I find a more threatening issue is the historical revisionism being played out at school boards all the way to the state level. Texas school board members openly talked about finding text books where Thomas Jefferson’s role in writing the Constitution was left out not because he didn’t really have a major role in writing the Constitution but because they did not like his ideas about the separation of church and state. So if they can deny that he was a writer of that founding document then they can deny that the “No Religious Test Clause” (Article 6 paragraph 3) might mean that a separation of church and state is implied.

  • Kevin Hagler

    Herman Cain was right about something, people need to get a sense of humor and stop being so sensitive. We need to stop patronizing pettiness.

  • Sam

    Great show. I almost forgot STR is an actual traditional terrestrial radio show, literally broadcast via electromagnetic waves, as the format’s quite different from that of the modern podcast, to which I’ve grown accustomed. Speaking of which, were the two Real Science episodes actually broadcast and recorded two weeks apart? If not, I wonder why there was said gap between the postings.

    Anyway, I appreciate Dr. Grinspoon’s mild-mannered diplomacy, and even more, its dichotomous coexistence with Maher’s utter lack of it, which I also very much appreciate. Like Dr. Tyson, I love the refreshing (and rare) quality in renowned individuals of outspoken honesty. Maher represents that with unabashed deftness, and was a great interviewee.

  • Glen Foy

    How obnoxious to split up your Maher interview that people actually want to listen to and intersperse it with the nattering of two self-satisfied bores.

  • jdag

    always a good show, chuck nice is best co-host. he makes the most entertaining shows. i’m planning on driving all the way up the cost to make it to nyc and want to stop by the HP. jeff do you know how accessible neil is? i would kill for an autograph

  • Sam

    @Glen Foy: If you’re referring to Dr. Tyson as a self-satisfied bore, I find your opinion utterly laughable, not to be taken seriously whatsoever, and I’m genuinely puzzled as to why you even listened to this show.

  • David

    I find Bill Maher a funny guy, but somewhat misogynistic and shallow regarding science and medicine. He has the ability to speak from ignorance about subjects like Restless Legs Syndrome being a plot to take money from the ‘gullible’. Because of his celebrity, he influences a segment of his audience to his misinformed opinion. Having the disease myself, I tried to contact Mr. Maher, but you all can guess how that went. I wanted to know if Krusty the Clown did the research on RLS, since it was first described in 1672 and given that stupid name in 1945. The disease is no joke. Just ask my former employers and ex wife. To have untreated RLS goes something like this- “I know it won’t kill me, but I wish it would”.

    Sorry to go off on a tangent like this, but Mr. Maher is where Science, Medicine and Atheism collide with some damage. He needs to be called out.

    • Gustavo

      I think this show would benefit a lot from interviewing social scientists.

  • Bill Maher has sarcastic humor indeed.

  • Jenny

    Great conversation, but I’m very disappointed there was no discussion of Bill Maher’s anti-vaccine or homeopathy beliefs. It seems like you’re holding him up as an evidence-based voice, when on those two issues he most definitely is not. If I’m wrong and Bill has recanted his viewpoints on these issues, I’d be most relieved to see any links.

  • Wes Mahan

    Tyson says there is no Republican war on science? Really? Even when they appoint a Young Earth Creationist as the HEAD of the House Committee on Science???

  • Yawa

    So, when people use sunscreen, they are really protecting themselves from the protection made by the Sun??

  • Chris

    Religion was invented by stupid mind long long time ago where people though that “god” live in clouds…
    Religion is cancer of mind.

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