When most people hear the phrase "Make America Great Again", they hear the rallying cries of a Trump supporter, calling for a border wall and demanding an end to the war on coal. But for educator and former engineer Bill Nye, the only thing that will make America great again is science.

On the latest episode of Vox's podcast I Think You're Interesting, the famous Science Guy sits down with host Todd VanDerWerff to talk about why celebrating science is downright patriotic, and why ignoring or dismissing it is setting the US back a step.

Nye's goal isn't to make everybody in the US a scientist, but it is his goal to make everybody appreciate the great value of science. So, it's no coincidence that his new show Bill Nye Saves the World is so well-timed with the rise of the anti-science movement currently sweeping the US.

"There are really people on the electric Internet running around, apparently, for real, seriously questioning whether or not the Earth is a ball. You're freaking kidding me!" he exclaimed.

"The idea that this 300-year-old technology of vaccinations is not real. Are you crazy? What's happened to us?" he added.

Science isn't just a luxury for Nye, it's an imperative, which is why he finds the denial and dismissal of basic scientific facts so discouraging.

Climate change is perhaps the best example of the mistrust and misunderstanding of science taking place in the US right now.

While over half of Americans (58 percent) understand that global warming is primarily human caused, about 30 percent say it is due mostly to natural changes.

Furthermore, a measly 13 percent of Americans understand that nearly all climate scientists agree that human-caused global warming is actually happening, according to a 2017 survey.

This isn't just an environmental crisis, either. Nye believes the US cannot deny such important and pressing science while remaining economically competitive.

"When I see people denying science for what seem to be economic reasons — this is to say, "I'm in the oil business; I don't want to stop selling oil, so I'm going to pretend that climate change isn't happening" — it's just heartbreaking," he said.

Raised by two WWII veterans, one of whom was a code-breaker for the Navy, Nye grew up with a patriotism for all disciplines that have made America great.

"It really is, for me, unpatriotic to deny science," he said.

"What made the United States the world leader that it has been my whole life is our technology. So I was brought up with this patriotism that is based on science, based on the process that enables us to innovate."

To say Nye is discouraged by the rise of Flat Earthers, anti-vaxxers and climate deniers would be a massive understatement. His feelings about the whole thing run much deeper and are far more emotional than the Science Guy usually lets on.

"This denial of science is heartbreaking," he said

"I guess I said that 16 times, and I should say it 17."

Read the whole interview here, or listen to the full podcast here.

Science AF is ScienceAlert's new editorial section where we explore society's most complex problems using science, sanity and humor.