Wherever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government.
But what happens when they are not? In every issue of modern society—climate change and vaccinations, transportation and technology, health care and national defense—we are in the midst of an unprecedented, simultaneous expansion of both scientific progress and danger. At the very time we need them most, scientists and the idea of objective knowledge are being bombarded by a vast and well-funded counter movement on three fronts: the identity politics, ideological, and industrial wars on science.
The result is an unprecedented erosion of thought in Western democracies as voters, policymakers, and justices actively ignore the evidence from science, leaving major policy decisions to be based increasingly on the demands of the most strident voices.
This seminar will investigate the historical, social, philosophical, political, and emotional reasons why evidence-based politics are in decline, and authoritarian politics on both the right and left are again on the rise, as well as some compelling solutions to bring us to our collective senses before it's too late.
LearningLife seminars embrace Socrates's belief in inquiry and exchange. Seminars include both lecture and critical discussion. Tuition includes continental breakfast.
Shawn Otto is the cofounder and chair of ScienceDebate.org and the producer of the first US Presidential Science Debates, for which he received the IEEE-USA's National Distinguished Public Service Award. Otto’s work has appeared in Science, Salon, and Scientific American. The screenwriter and coproducer of the Academy Award-nominated House of Sand and Fog, his most recent book is The War on Science: Who's Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It (Milkweed Editions, 2016).