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

Not Your Granddaddy's Garbage Burners: Why Burning Waste for Energy Fights Climate Change

The technology is cleaner and safer than generally believed

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Jun 06, 2013

New Poll: Even religious voters overwhelmingly want candidates to debate science

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.

A Message from a Republican Meteorologist on Climate Change

Acknowledging Climate Science Doesn’t Make You A Liberal

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Mar 28, 2012

You can’t prove that any one of Barry Bonds' 762 home runs was sparked by alleged steroid use. But it did increase his “base state”, raising the overall odds of hitting a home run. You can’t point to any one weather extreme and say “that’s climate change”, but a warmer atmosphere increases the potential for historic spikes in temperature, and more frequent weather extremes.

Americans Deserve a Presidential Science Debate

In an age when the major US challenges revolve around science, we deserve candidates who will share their views on it

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Mar 19, 2012

America needs and deserves a president who can show that he or she understands the importance of basing public policy on the best available evidence, as the founders intended.

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.

BREAKING: EPA Inspector General Criticizes Greenhouse Gas Ruling Procedure

Report requested by climate change denier James "it's a hoax" Inhofe

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Sep 28, 2011

A new report by the Inspector General of the EPA questions the EPA's procedures in making a 2009 endangerment finding about excess greenhouse gas emissions.

The report "calls the scientific integrity of EPA’s decision-making process into question and undermines the credibility of the endangerment finding," according to Sen James Inhofe, the senate Environment and Public Works committee minority leader.

1100 People Rally at MN State Capitol

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."

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."

Obama: Did I say I'd 'restore science to its rightful place'?

Jackson says EPA will not meet GHG deadline

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Sep 15, 2011

Standing on the capitol steps on a crisp and partly sunny January 20, 2009, newly-minted president Barack Obama said he would "restore science to its rightful place" - what had been a part of the mission statement of Science Debate 2008, the nonprofit grassroots initiative to get the candidates for president to debate the nation's top unsolve science challenges. But today Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson said the EPA will not meet a court-imposed September 30 deadline to propose rules for limiting greenhouse gas pollution like excess carbon dioxide from power plants.

Bachmann, Perry in race to unreason

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.

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 Science of Political Sex Scandals

Why politicians risk it all for a little nookie

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Jun 07, 2011

Anthony Weiner has admitted his virtual affairs. What makes powerful men (and I say men because it seems so far to be predominantly a male trend, but as more women enter public office that may be revealed not to be the case) - what makes powerful men risk it all? On the surface of it, it seems crazy. But there are reasons from neuroscience. Let's start by looking at a short list of recent political sex scandals. More after the fold.

Why I'm not worried about my cell phone causing brain cancer

The World Health Organization's cancer "risk" is indistinguishable from chance

By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Jun 01, 2011

Today the big news is a release by the World Health Organization about a "possible" link between brain cancer and cell phone use. They class the use in the same risk category as - get this - eating pickled vegetables or drinking coffee. Seriously?

My step mom died of glioblastoma multiforme. It was a particularly horrible way to go. But I'm not worried about my brain, my wife's brain, or my son's brain, at least from cell phone use. Why? Physics.