Trump and Science: A conversation with Shawn Otto

Shawn Otto

On November 8th, 2016, the entire planet received a punch in the gut. A political worst nightmare happened. The most qualified person to ever run for the office of President of the United States, Hillary Clinton, was defeated by the least qualified person to ever run for President, Donald Trump.

Since that fateful night, we’ve had the opportunity to see if things would end up being as bad as many suspected, as the Trump transition team puts together its future cabinet. It turns out we were wrong. Things are looking like they will be even worse than worst case. For this, there is not even a word.

How Should We Respond to the Election of Trump?

This week we speak with Shawn Otto, author of

The War on Science: Who’s Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It, about the implications of the presumed Donald Trump presidency, especially with respect to science policy. Given the way the Trump cabinet is forming up, this becomes an incredibly important conversation.

Shawn is also a co-founder of

You probably know that Shawn is an excellent writer, a promoter of science and science based policy, and a highly regarded political and social analyst. You might not know that Shawn is an experienced political operative as well, having run difficult but successful campaigns. Both of us (Haubrich and Laden) have experience working on campaigns, and we see Shawn as one of the regional go-to political gurus. During this podcast, we hear some of Shawn’s analysis of what happened in the recent national election in the US. Did Donald Trump win this election, or did Hillary Clinton lose it? And how did that happen? Is this the first Facebook-Twitter election?

In case you are interested in looking at some of the primary literature related to the rise of modern science, check out
Francis Bacon: The Major Works (Oxford World’s Classics).

Shawn’s earlier interview on Ikonokast is here.

We hope you enjoy our conversation with Shawn Otto:

3 thoughts on “Trump and Science: A conversation with Shawn Otto”

  1. I will go back and dig up my copy of your book Shawn and re-read the suggested steps forward. And now some pointed comments. Conflating “hippies” with people who voted for Reagan does not comport with my rememberance of being a former hippy and my voting against Reagan. Many hippies ended up going back to school and getting STEM degrees, like I did, but we did not vote for Reagan. Nor are we all self focused, at least not all the time. Very bad over generalization there Shawn. The podcast tended to sound like a couple of ivory tower achievers who are calmly sitting in the wreckage of their lab not yet realizing that their own elitist self-focused attitudes may, just possibly, be symptomatic of the dynamic which destroyed their laboratory and, in this analogy, science in America. You describe a system where science is linked to a few academic positions for the best of the best, instead of a system working towards a world where science and scientific thinking is purposefully integrated more skillfully into every aspect of modern life. But thanks for the chat. You did touch on some interesting points. Have a nice day.

  2. I think in the podcast I said that that was a generalization about the cohort, not individual members of it. That said, the point is salient and I stand by it. It wad the boomers that elected Reagan; the numbers show this irrefutably. That shocking result then confused Democrats and caused much examination. I wrote about this on Salon last March and warned of this possible outcome. The article mentions psychographics that explained some of this, developed by SRI and later used by Bill Clinton.
    You may also be interested in this classic book that examines generational cohorts and their common traits in America.
    In fact, “a world where science and scientific thinking is purposefully integrated more skillfully into every aspect of modern life” is precisely what I advocate. The science gap is posing an existential challenge to democracy. I encourage you to read The War on Science.

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