Shawn Lawrence Otto | Scientific American
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Nov 01, 2012
The United States faced down authoritarian governments on the left and right. Now it may be facing an even greater challenge from within
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.
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.”
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."
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.
Energy Industry-funded Heartland Institute engaging in more religion-style climate science denial proselytizing
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Jul 11, 2011
I got an email from Joel Primack, Distinguished Professor of Physics, and Director of the University of California High-Performance Astrocomputing Center at UC-Santa Cruz. He and his wife Nancy Abrams, a writer and lawyer, have a new book out and were on Extension 720, a Chicagoland radio show. Who should call in, but Maureen Martin, the Heartland Institute's senior fellow for legal affairs, and she engaged them in a discussion of denial.
Garry Trudeau has some fun with Louisiana's classroom creationism kookiness
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Jul 10, 2011
When the Louisiana state legislature adjourned on June 23, 2011, Senate Bill 70 — which would have repealed the antievolution law in effect in the state since 2008 — died in committee. The driving force behind the repeal effort was Baton Rouge high school senior Zack Kopplin, working with the Louisiana Coalition for Science.
We live in a day when students lead the charge for truth, while parents want to sacrifice their childrens' education to satisfy their political affiliation.
Today's GOP seems increasingly anti-science, but it wasn't always so. 80 years ago, the antiscience social conservatives were Democrats.
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Jul 07, 2011
Today the party that most stands for freedom, openness, tolerance, caution, and science is the Democratic Party, which may explain why fifty-five percent of scientists polled in 2009 said they were Democrats, while only six percent said they were Republicans, compared to thirty-five and twenty-three percent of the general public, respectively. Early in the twentieth century this situation was almost reversed. Republican Abraham Lincoln had created the National Academy of Sciences in 1863. Republican William McKinley, who is admired by Karl Rove, won two presidential elections, in 1896 and 1900, over the anti-evolution Democrat William Jennings Bryan.
Why Michele Bachmann's ideas about public education are bad for America
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Jul 05, 2011
GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has made a career out of waging the values battle in the culture wars. A major part of that battle early on in Bachmann's career was the battle over teaching creationism in public school science classes. In fact, Bachmann got her start in politics on the board of a charter school that got in trouble for teaching biblical principles in class. She ran for school board as part of a group of religious conservatives that sought to take it over. She failed, but it was the last election she has lost. Today, the debate over "teching the controversy" has gone mainstream.
Attend the Heartland Institute and accept the energy industry into your heart as your personal savior and you can become an expert.
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Jun 30, 2011
The Heartland Institute is up to its usual tricks, delivering a religious retreat-like conference about climate change denial and passing it off as science. They are an energy-industry funded climate change denial outfit that equips their congregation followers with the latest anti-climate science preaching.
It is an approach that seems to have confused at least one state senator about the difference between the two. The story is instructive because it is happening in state legislatures across the country, and the stakes are tremendous.
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."
Nienstedt's misstatements about children erode credibility
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Jun 13, 2011
The Catholic Church doesn't exactly have a great track record on matters of science - for example, the shameful and ridiculous indictment of Galileo:
The proposition that the sun is in the center of the world and immovable from its place is absurd, philosophically false, and formally heretical; because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scriptures.
The proposition that the earth is not the center of the world, nor immovable, but that it moves, and also with a diurnal action, is also absurd, philosophically false, and, theologically considered, at least erroneous in faith.
After that day, science passed Italy by and it faded as a world power.
So it's surprising to see Saint Paul-Minneapolis Archbiship John Nienstedt's latest effort to promote a proposed Minnesota state constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage relying on science:
Why Texas Governor Rick Perry should "just say no" to his urge to run for president.
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | May 30, 2011
Texas Governor Rick Perry is toying with a run for president. He may be an excellent choice for a GOP that is retreating into unreason, but he would be bad for America because Perry makes governing decisions based on his own personal version of reality, even when it is contradicted by the facts.
Consider Texas's approach to sex ed. A few years back, Texas lawmakers cut sex ed from two six-month courses to a single unit of “abstinence only” education.
Charting astronomy's emergence from religion, and the ties that bind them
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | May 27, 2011
The English poet Alfred Noyes was on hand on the night of November 1, 1917 as George Ellery Hale’s only invited guest for the dedication of the Hooker 100-inch telescope on the top of Mount Wilson, which Edwin Hubble would use to discover the expansion of the universe. “Your Milton's 'optic tube' has grown in power since Galileo,” Hale had written his friend. Hale ordered the giant telescope to be trained, like Galileo’s had been, on Jupiter and its moons.