TikTok’s days may be numbered, but the app is still being utilized for some good (it’s not only lip-syncing teens, ya know). As the debate around facemasks continues, a couple of new educational posts by Bill Nye in which he schools anti-maskers on preventing the spread of COVID-19 are making the social media rounds. Now we’re going to get this disclaimer out of the way immediately: Bill Nye is not a scientist. He’s a mechanical engineer. But he is “The Science Guy” and, at this point, has hired legit scientists to help him vet his episodes.
He’s also got a massive platform to reach people who might otherwise refuse masks. And in these TikToks he does a good job breaking down the science of the face mask in his trademark zany style. The series is called “Consider the Following” and it’s accompanied by the kind of quick edits that make TikTok so addicting.
“So the reason we want you to wear a mask is to protect you, sure. But the main reason we want you to wear a mask is to protect me from you, and the particles from your respiratory system from getting into my respiratory system,” says Bill, while demonstrating how both cloth and N95 masks make it harder to blow out a candle because of their ability to block airflow.
In another post, Bill Nye draws a comparison to the science of facemasks, and their ability to block the movement of air, to that of a scarf, explaining that the basic science is the same. So while Bill Nye may not be a scientist and he’s definitely not an epidemiologist, he is a science educator. Meaning that we’ll take his word over your conspiracy-obsessed Facebook uncle any day.
While a culture war rages over wearing facemasks in America, study after study seems to indicate that the masks will, in fact, help us in preventing the spread of COVID. A study published in Health Affairs compared the COVID-19 growth rate in 15 different states before and after the states issued mask mandates and found that the mandates slowed daily growth rate of the virus quite significantly. Another study that examined 198 countries also found that those with the cultural norms or policies of wearing face masks exhibited lower death rates in relation to COVID-19.