Shawn has worked for years to get politicians to focus on the major science issues like climate change, and to base policy decisions on evidence, while working to get journalists to do a better job of covering these important questions. He foresaw the rise of "alternative facts" and science denial a decade early and worked to raise awareness of the coming crisis.
In 2007, Shawn cofounded ScienceDebate.org and in 2008 as its CEO he personally produced the first US presidential science debates, then online between President Barack Obama and his opponent, Senator John McCain. In 2012 he did the same thing between Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. ScienceDebate.org became the largest political initiative in the history of science, supported by more than 100 major universities, the US National Academies, the AAAS, dozens of Nobel laureates, members of congress, corporate CEOs, most major science organizations, leading scientists, and creative voices in arts and culture. In 2016, Shawn again organized a national effort to get presidential candidates to focus on evidence and today's challenges, personally getting all four presidential candidates to answer 20 questions about science, engineering, tech, health & the environment.
Over the past decade Shawn has spoken in several countries and on worldwide media about the growing crisis to democracy with the rise of antiscience, alternative facts, propaganda and authoritarianism, and he educates audiences all over about the importance of science to democracy and as a force for justice—and survival.