Home | Neorenaissance - A blog from the intersection of science, politics and the creative culture

Climategate 2.0? Pay no attention to the energy industry behind the curtain

New illegal hacking produces - shock - more of the same

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Nov 22, 2011

A new batch of nearly 230,000 illegally hacked emails is up online in the same old places the last batch went up in November of 2009. It seems like old times. But it doesn't change the data.

Congressman to Witness: 'You Just Be Quiet!' (Video)

Rep. Don Young abuses noted historian Dougles Brinkley in stunning display

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Nov 19, 2011

A heated exchange between two congressmen and a historian they didn't want to hear from shows what happens to democracy when knowledge is no longer the arbiter of what is true, but is simply another "way of knowing."

Republicans Cut Top Science Office by 1/3

"Compromise" cut in Congress down from 55% in House bill

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Nov 16, 2011

White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) budget by a whopping 32 percent. The cuts "will have real consequences on OSTP's operations," said spokesperson Rick Weiss.

Rustlings From Republican Environmentalists

By guest blogger Barry Bickmore, a Republican geoscientist at Brigham Young University

By Guest Blogger | Nov 16, 2011

Let’s face it–it’s a bad year for Republican Environmentalists like me. About half of the field of Republican presidential candidates once promoted the idea of addressing climate change in some way, but all but Jon Huntsman have backed off this stance to one extent or another.

Climate scientist wins a round for America

At stake is Americans' freedom to express ideas that run contrary to corporations

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Nov 01, 2011

These actions reflect an all-too-common authoritarian goal, a goal that vested interests have pursued since the days of Galileo: forcibly silencing freedom of speech, thought, inquiry and expression that runs counter to the vested interests. In Galileo's 1633 indictment, it was the Catholic Church, then the seat of world political power. Today the vested interests that are being threatened by the measured facts of science are the current the seat of world political power, the US energy industry. But quashing science is anti-freedom and unAmerican, so the try to do it anonymously, through groups like ATI.

The UnAmerican War on Science

Today's antiscience politicians are not going to take America where we need to go

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Oct 27, 2011

America didn't keep the world safe for democracy by pandering to ideological dark agers - we got ahead by using hard-headed science. It's time we get back to it, and start putting America first again.

Blowback: the failure of Cain cool

New ad from Herman Cain team undermines its own message

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Oct 25, 2011

Trying to pull a Jesse The Thinker wink, the ad cuts to Herman Cain and his logo - which, epic, ironic fail, looks a lot like two other logos associated with smoking.

A Global Warming Primer for Skeptics

Multiple independent lines of data show similar trends

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Oct 25, 2011

Most skeptical conservatives are reason-minded thinkers who are simply too busy to assess vast datasets. Those people should consider the following charts.

Another Climate Denial Argument Bites the Dust

BEST study says urban areas not skewing global temperature measurements

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Oct 20, 2011

One of the favorite arguments of climate change deniers is that the urban heat island effect, which has grown with global development, is unduly biasing global temperature readings. This seems reasonable when you consider that many measuring stations were originally placed outside of cities in the 1800s, but since then the cities have expanded and grown up around them, quite likely affecting their data.

Herman Cain Joins Mad Tea Party

GOP hopeful joins nutty crowd in revisionist history and denial of science

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Oct 14, 2011

Making a move in GOP presidential primary politics has come to include taking obligatory antiscience positions. Candidates are making increasingly outlandish statements - statements that once would have disqualified serious candidates for president but now are oddly celebrated. You stop in Iowa, and New Hampshire, and then you swear on the bible that global warming is poppycock.

Oh, Newt. Newt, Newt, Newt. Seriously?

Newt Gingrich, a supporter of Science Debate, goes antiscience

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Oct 04, 2011

I was surprised last week when Gingrich argued that embryonic stem cell research is “killing children in order to have research materials.”

Is EPA's Inspector General Playing Politics?

Report critical of agency instead raises questions about watchdog

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Sep 28, 2011

A report by EPA Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins, Jr. that criticizes the agency's greenhouse gases endangerment finding is instead raising questions about Elkins and the integrity of the Office of the Inspector General.

BREAKING: EPA Inspector General Criticizes Greenhouse Gas Ruling Procedure

Report requested by climate change denier James "it's a hoax" Inhofe

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Sep 28, 2011

A new report by the Inspector General of the EPA questions the EPA's procedures in making a 2009 endangerment finding about excess greenhouse gas emissions.

The report "calls the scientific integrity of EPA’s decision-making process into question and undermines the credibility of the endangerment finding," according to Sen James Inhofe, the senate Environment and Public Works committee minority leader.

1100 People Rally at MN State Capitol

Otto Fires up the Crowd with ... Facts and Science?

By Guest Blogger | Sep 25, 2011

"It's pretty astonishing when a crowd cheers just to hear verifiable scientific facts," said Otto. "It speaks to how far our national policymakers have drifted from reality."

Conservatives Astroturfing a Brave New World (VIDEO)

There is a propaganda battle being fought on the internet to control what you believe

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Sep 22, 2011

Hilary Clinton was mocked as paranoid when in 1998 she said that there was "a vast right-wing conspiracy" out to discredit her husband Bill Clinton's presidency. Since then the network of right-wing media outfits, conservative think tanks, merchant scientists, propaganda videographers and corporate-funded astroturf organizations has been broadly documented.

A Starred Review from Publishers Weekly for Fool Me Twice

"In this incredible book, Otto explores the devaluation of science in America."

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Sep 19, 2011

I'm really thrilled to announce they've given my new book Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America not just a passing grade, but a "starred review" which they say "indicates a book of outstanding quality."

I knew Bachmann Would Double Down on Antiscience

The Minnesota Congresswoman will redefine reality to win an argument

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Sep 16, 2011

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is doubling down on her antiscience attack against GOP presidential frontrunner Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Bachmann appeared to have scored points at the Tampa, FL Tea Party debate by attacking the Perry over an executive order requiring 6th grade girls to be immunized against human papillomavirus, a leading cause of cervical cancer, calling it "flat out wrong" to force girls to get a "government injection."

Obama: Did I say I'd 'restore science to its rightful place'?

Jackson says EPA will not meet GHG deadline

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Sep 15, 2011

Standing on the capitol steps on a crisp and partly sunny January 20, 2009, newly-minted president Barack Obama said he would "restore science to its rightful place" - what had been a part of the mission statement of Science Debate 2008, the nonprofit grassroots initiative to get the candidates for president to debate the nation's top unsolve science challenges. But today Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson said the EPA will not meet a court-imposed September 30 deadline to propose rules for limiting greenhouse gas pollution like excess carbon dioxide from power plants.

Bachmann, Perry in race to unreason

Two of the three leading GOP candidates for president increasingly appear to be unable to discern fact from fiction.

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Sep 15, 2011

The HPV flap is just the latest in a GOP flight into unreason. Bachmann and Perry frequently take policy positions that fly in the face of science.

Science and Antiscience at the Reagan Debate

Continued republican party relevance may hinge on science

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Sep 07, 2011

GOP hopefuls are increasingly stuck between a rock and a hard place: how to satisfy the antiscience foot soldiers recruited into the base because of their passionate energy without alienating general election voters who view those positions as irrational. The battle over science - between Huntsman, Gingrich and Romney on the one hand, and Bachmann, Santorum, Perry and Paul on the other, may determine the relevance of the republican party going forward.