Home | Neorenaissance - A blog from the intersection of science, politics and the creative culture

Dramatic Photos of Glacier National Park Then and Now

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.

Organizations List Top Science & Environmental Questions Obama, Romney Should Tackle

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.

The Vulnerable Heart of Machismo

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

Obama is Just Plain Wrong on Plan B

Eight reasons why Obama should reverse his support of Secretary Sebelius's decision on Plan B

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Dec 15, 2011

The last time this happened, it was under Bush administration FDA commissioner Lester Crawford, and it was a major scandal. It should be this time too, and here's why.

I knew Bachmann Would Double Down on Antiscience

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."

Am I a bad parent?

Why I gave my son a dangerous cell phone even after San Francisco said it's bad for him

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Aug 01, 2011

Last week the big science news was a new study saying cell phones don't increase cancer risk in kids. It was promptly called into question on HuffPost and elsewhere. Several reporters referenced the May 31 release by the World Health Organization about a "possible" link between brain cancer and cell phone use, which classed it in the same risk category as eating pickled vegetables and drinking coffee. In a related move, last week San Francisco passed a regulation requiring retailers to post radiation exposure warnings on every phone and hand every customer educational material counseling them on the possible risks to their health.

The Manufactured Candidate

The truth-telling, pro-life, anti-science Tim Pawlenty is a closet moderate who once told me that "personally" he is pro-choice

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Jun 25, 2011

Tim Pawlenty has based his presidential campaign on truth-telling and toughness, and likes to talk about his pro-life credentials. But there are some problems with that. I've known Pawlenty since he was a young republican state representative from Eagan, Minnesota. We had some of the same friends and used to golf together once in a while. His campaign treasurer was my accountant. And Pawlenty told me then that "personally," he was pro-choice.

The Archbishop, Gay Marriage, and Science

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:

In Praise of Older Cabins

The North Woods Summer Tradition and the Age of Simplicity

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Jun 11, 2011

There is something about summer, lakes and cabins that calls to children of all ages. The cool, shadowy, calm mornings like today's (above), or the fun, hot splashy summer afternoons in the waves.