Bill Nye to be Honored as Humanist of the Year

Writer, actor, inventor and public science educator Bill Nye will be honored as the 2010 Humanist of the Year at the American Humanist Association’s 69th Annual Conference, “Humanism 2.0,” taking place June 3-6 at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose, California.

Best known for his Emmy Award-winning popular children’s science show of the mid-1990’s, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Nye has long been an advocate for public understanding of science and the environment. He received his degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell, and prior to his career in television he worked at Boeing and did consulting work in the aerospace industry.

He is the host of three currently running television series: The 100 Greatest Discoveries, which airs on the Science Channel, The Eyes of Nye, on PBS, and Stuff Happens on the Planet Green channel, about environmentally responsible choices that consumers can make in their day-to-day lives. He also serves as the vice president of The Planetary Society, and he speaks around the world on the organization’s behalf. He is the author of five children’s science books, holds three patents and is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including three Emmys.

Other honorees at the AHA’s 69th Annual Conference will include Stanford University neurologist and neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky, the recipient of the Isaac Asimov Science Award; author and international journalist Wendy Liu, who will receive the Humanist Pioneer award; sociologist and former Feminist Caucus co-chair Meg Bowman and co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation Annie Laurie Gaylor, who will be the co-recipients of the Humanist Heroine Award; and a posthumous Humanist Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to honor pharmaceutical pioneer Frank Berger.

The conference will also feature top speakers and entertainment, including Ana Lita, director of the Appignani Bioethics Center; Harvard Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein, author of the New York Times best-seller Good Without God: What A Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe; and a live taping of the Philosophy Talk radio show, featuring Stanford University philosophy professors Ken Taylor and John Perry. Music will be provided by longtime humanist activist Jim Corbett. In addition there will be entertainment by Brian Keith Dalton, the creator of the popular YouTube show Mr. Deity (now presented by Sony Pictures Entertainment). And magician and mentalist Jamy Ian Swiss will bring his skepticism-charged show; his work has appeared on Comedy Central, PBS and The Today Show.

The breakout session lineup this year includes a range of exciting and engaging topics, from humanist ethics, religious freedom in the workplace and the separation of church and state, to humanist peace activism, global warming and building a humanist utopia. Thursday, June 3, will feature a pre-conference track of sessions for chapter leaders with a focus on building up membership, programs and public relations capabilities for local AHA chapters. And there will be book signings, an exhibition space and a humanist bookstore run by EvolveFish throughout the conference.

Register now for the 69th Annual Conference by calling 1-800-837-3792 or visiting Full registration is $299 for AHA members. Don’t forget to make your room reservation directly with the Doubletree Hotel by calling 1-800-HILTONS (be sure to mention the American Humanist Association) or online at (enter “AHA” under Group/Convention Code). Book before April 30 to lock in the special conference rate of $129 per night plus tax.

This article first appeared in the Spring 2010 issue of Free Mind.