Bill Nye used a colander and wooden pegs to debunk anti-mask arguments in a viral TikTok

Bill Nye used a colander and wooden pegs to debunk anti-mask arguments in a viral TikTok
Bill Nye demonstrates how masks function in a viral TikTok video.@billnye/TikTok
  • In a viral TikTok video, Bill Nye addresses several anti-mask arguments, demonstrating how the fibers of a mask can stop respiratory droplets that contain the coronavirus.
  • Masks have been found to help block the release of respiratory droplets from infected persons, as well as reduce wearers' exposure to the droplets, according to the CDC.
  • Anti-mask sentiment has appeared — and swiftly been made fun of — on TikTok in the past.

Bill Nye, the legendary TV science instructor, shut down several anti-mask arguments in a viral Tiktok that's amassed approximately 4 million likes since it was posted five days ago.

In the video, Nye - in classic "Bill Nye the Science Guy" style - speaks about how masks can block virus-loaded droplets, using a colander and board of wooden pegs to demonstrate how they work to prevent the transmission of disease.

The coronavirus can be transmitted via respiratory droplets, Business Insider reported in May, which carry the virus in drops of liquid like saliva and mucus that travel through the air after an infected person breathes, sneezes, coughs, speaks loudly, sings, or eats. Medical experts believe that this is the primary avenue through which the coronavirus spreads.

A scientific brief from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that multi-layer cloth masks can help to block the release of these respiratory particles, as well as reduce wearers' exposure to these droplets.

"There's a perception that a virus can travel through the fibers of a mask, like this red dot," Nye says, poking a rod with a red dot on its end through the hole of a colander.


"Viruses don't travel by themselves, no, they travel in little droplets of spit and snot, and the fibers are a tangle," he continues, demonstrating by dropping several wooden balls, meant to represent droplets, into a board of wooden pegs, meant to represent the fibers of a mask, that stop them from reaching the countertop below.

"So when the droplet gets into the fibers of a mask, it gets trapped. This is not that hard to understand, everybody," he says.


I don’t know who needs to hear this but... ##masks work. Wear one. Carry on... ##tiktokpartner ##learnontiktok

♬ original sound - Bill Nye

Masks have become political symbols in the United States. According to a May Associated Press report, President Trump told advisors that he thought wearing a mask would "send the wrong message" and potentially harm his reelection chances. Business Insider's Kate Taylor and Áine Cain reported in May that retail workers were frequently caught in the crossfire while enforcing either store or state policies regarding mask-wearing.

Anti-mask sentiment has appeared on TikTok as well. One trend that was popular in October involved creators mocking widely circulated anti-mask videos that purported to simulate sneezes by pressing a spray bottle directly against different masks and spraying water through them.

"This is a sneeze," TikTokers would say before dunking their faces in bodies of water or spraying their mask with a hose.


This isn't the first time that Nye has spoken out in favor of masks on TikTok before. In July, he demonstrated how masks can "block the movement of air" by attempting to blow out a candle while wearing a knit scarf, cloth mask, and N-95 respirator over his mouth. He was unable to blow out the candle while wearing the cloth mask and N-95 respirator but was able to while wearing the knit scarf, demonstrating his point.

Addressing resistance to mask-wearing rules, Nye says, "You know about rules. You pay taxes on the whole road but you only get to drive on one side at a time." He then forces two toy cars together, showing an explosion on-screen.

"So everyone please wear a mask, thank you," he says.