Congress debates climate change that images make plain
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Aug 03, 2012
Beyond these Orwellian arguments, for a true taste of problems inherent in this discussion tune in to the exchange that happened as Boxer brought the first portion of the hearing to a close.
In an age of growing antiscience politics, fifteen US science and engineering organizations take a stand
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Jul 19, 2012
Fifteen of the top U.S. science and engineering organizations today released a list of the most important science policy questions that presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Mitt Romney should be debating on the campaign trail.
Book Review: Cures for Hunger by Deni Béchard
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | May 16, 2012
A gripping, evocative memoir of the writer's childhood love for his criminal but all-too-human father
Consensus among Protestants, Catholics for science debates, science-based policies; Twice as many think the US not spending enough on alternative energy as do defense
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Apr 03, 2012
It turns out that the presidential campaign staffers have it completely, one hundred and eighty degrees wrong when it comes to science. Overwhelming majorities of American voters want the candidates to debate the big science issues facing the country.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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."
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.
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.
Antiscience activists have attacked Fool Me Twice - even before it is published
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Sep 01, 2011
Virtually all the climate data we’ve gathered over fifty years points to the same conclusion: humans are warming the planet by burning fossil fuels. But the data have no credibility with global warming deniers, who view science and knowledge as opinions that can be argued into submission. There is a vast Army of Armchair Antiscientists – a shadow AAAS – intent on doing just that across a wide range of science findings they disagree with. They are militant, impassioned, cunning and deceitful, and they seek to quash any messaging that does not agree with their narrative.
It's Time For The Insurance Industry To Step Up To The Plate
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Aug 26, 2011
When you look at US losses from catastrophic events related to the climate—storms, floods, droughts, and wildfires—in 2010 and compare them to 1980, their number has quadrupled, but remained unchanged in other categories of loss.
Perry again insists on ideology, even when it's demonstrably not true
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Aug 18, 2011
GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry is a skilled politician but he shows poor quality thinking when handling policy challenges using knowledge and science.
Symphony of Science's new music video
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Jul 08, 2011
I usually hate the short cute video drivel you can find on youtube, and I try to stay away from it. That goes double for the new autotuned drivel. But once in a while somebody actually does a halfway decent job of it, and then somebody else like PZ Myers, who we all know has such cultured taste, goes and vets it for you, and you have to watch.
A new movement is afoot to end liberal arts degrees and transform higher ed into trade school
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Jun 19, 2011
Salon runs this article about the benefits of killing the liberal arts degree.
Stanley Fish wrote of this sort of triumph of small-mindedness in 2010 in an eloquent criticism of Securing a Sustainable Future for Higher Education, a set of recommendations made by an independent panel to the British government. It advocated “student choice” in funding higher education.
Among the report’s palliatives: “Our proposals put students at the heart of the system.” “Our recommendations…are based on giving students the ability to make an informed choice of where and what to study.” “Students are best placed to make the judgment about what they want to get from participating in higher education.” The idea is that the money follows the students. Courses that compete successfully for student attendance survive and prosper; those that do not wither and die. The assumptions of market economics have triumphed: Ideas are now considered commodities.
We have to shame antiscience thinking into submission just like we did racism
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Jun 18, 2011
Yesterday I spoke on the Netroots Nation 2011 panel Science Policy in Unexpected Places with some amazing copanelists here here here and here.
My comment that “Science is never partisan, but science is always political,” and that “we need to shame antiscience thinking into submission, just as we shamed racism” was picked up, tweeted and posted by Think Progress's Brad Johnson. It caused quite a discussion.
At the same time, my old state senator Michele Bachmann spoke at the other end of the Mississippi and reiterated her old position about intelligent design and how "we should teach the controversy."
The Tea Party's hatred of government regulation is misplaced
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Jun 15, 2011
If there was a theme to today's Tea Party politics, Adam Smith might be it. Do we really need laws and regulations? Can't private industry take care of everything, and do it better and cheaper?
In 1776, Adam Smith argued in The Wealth of Nations that an individual, who “intends only his own gain” was, in a shared economy, in effect “led by an invisible hand” to promote the greater public interest, since willing buyers and willing sellers will always arrive at a natural price for things, and the highest value and efficiency will be obtained. “Nor is it always the worse for the society that [the individual’s intention to do social good] was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.”
The argument was so well made that it has become an axiom of economics: just get out of the way.
But is it true?
At least one GOP prez candidate isn't pandering to nut jobs, but that doesn't mean he's making any sense
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Jun 04, 2011
Today Mitt Romney admitted what the educated world already knows: global climate change is real, it's human-caused, and we need to do something about it. It's a lesson in good old American courage to lead that the other "moderate" GOP candidate, my old friend Tim Palwenty, could take a lesson from - almost.