tv Discussion on Science Skeptics CSPAN May 28, 2015 9:00pm-10:22pm EDT
him examining the causes and history, and issues such as vaccination and space exploration. the conversation is an hour and 20 minutes. >> all right. let's get started. first of all, may i remind you to please turn off the sounds on your cell phones you haven't already. this is wednesday may 28th, panel number 623. anti-science. i asked for a science panel. i got an anti-science panel. [laughter] so i'm tom blumen that'll. i'm the former chair of molecular and development
buyology. and i'm the director for down syndrome at the medical school. let me briefry introduce the subject. i want to -- you to imagine a world where they were accepted. where nobody was deliberately underseeking to undermine these fact just because they stood to gain financetially buzz raising facts because they seem at odds with their religious beliefs. huge numbers of americans simply don't believe facts people believing in the truth matter as lot not because it affects the truth but because whether or not we act based on truth or fiction matter as lot. this isn't a scientific issue. it's a political one. today's panelists will address the thorny question of how to get people to believe facts
even when they don't want to. so let me introduce the panelists in the order in which they're going to speak. first is michelle fowler. she's an astronomer and a science communicator. she's been a regular host of the history channel's "the universe." national geographic "the known universe" and the discovery channel's "how the universe works." you can say she's narrowly focused on the universe. [laughter] richard ally is evan pew professor of geo sciences at penn state university. he's one of the major figures worldwide in the area of climate change and is dedicated to educating the public about what is happening and what will happen. he taught me that for what man has done to the atmosphere not to have caused global warming the laws of physics will have to be wrong.
third is chip brulee long-term activists in the cause of human rights. he's a democratic socialist and asbsolutist and he has a new book "too close for comfort: forget the tea party movement." he's sorry. [laughter] leonard pip is a columnist for the "miami herald." he has won the pultser prize on raise in america. so first, michelle. michelle: well, good morning. you know, it's one of the gaps in my training as a scientist that i'm finding myself in this sort of social situation, science communicator where i'm dealing with this odd cadence of people insisting that something is false is true and something that is true is
false. this is something i don't have the rhetorical training and i'm trying to get the chops to do this. this is going on in my life right now at this moment. but the idea that the false is true that for example nasa could be hiding something from you, right now, we have the dom spacecraft it actually went into orbit around the largest solar system. this happened about three weeks ago. it's amazing. i'm so excited. this is the first spacecraft used as an ion drive and it's gone from one asteroid toe another. there may be evidence of liquid water. as they were profing series there were these odd bright areas inside some of the craters and we're wondering if they're a lighter rock or it was ice. and the images start coming. the reason is we're using an
ion drive. the thrust is very, very small. the engine has the thrust equivalent of blowing on your hand just like that. very, very low thrust engine. so we don't do a burn and start looping around. and for the last two weeks we've been on the night side of the asteroid. that's why there haven't been more pictures and we're all waiting when we swing around to the bay side. but this morning i'm answering e-mails about what are you hiding? what was in those craters. and the explanation is -- this doesn't really seem to get people emotionally to respond to that. you know, i -- i want the months of my life back that 2012 apocalypse because i was getting calls for people who >> frightened. and there were afraid that the world was coming to an end. and other people were i bet the world isn't coming to an end but i want to see where this
astronomical junction. this thing was made up. it's one of the reasons i actually stopped working with history channel. i was one of the regular host for the universe. but they would present a show they was doing aboutas roids or possible life on mars from a scientific perspective and then they would have ancient aliens right after it. seriously right after it. and they would be presenting these things as equivalent. and there was enough to make me stop actually working with the history channel. you know the strange thing was -- i think this gets at a lot of what's going on is somebody calls me at nasa and they said oh, my god, is it true the world is going to end next week? i sort of had enough. think about this, do you think i would be in my office answering the phone if i
thought the world was ending in a week? i said start getting worried when all of the signities buy up expensive wine and max out their credit card and i'll go to some tropical i'm land because then you know something bad is going to happen. but this idea that i am not a person that i don't have feelings and emotion and a family and a reason to be alive, you know, that i wouldn't react emotionally if i knew the world was coming to an end. what odd disconnect -- you know somebody wants to separate the fact of being a scientist from the fact that you are a human being. and this is something that i've seen come over and over again. you know i was listening to there's a wonderful keynote address that leonard was giving down there and he was using the term -- he didn't coin it. but he used it before. the weapons of mass distraction. when there are things going on that are bad for consumerism or people might say that they're bad for the economy or any number of reasons, bad for the
reactionary culture for conserve tim and culture people often will try to distract you with something else. this started to make me very uncomfortable. i actually talked to the discovery channel and i talked to the discovery channel producers about this. but i'm beginning to have a ethical problem about the risk the earth stands from a gallery burst or from the risk that an asteroid can destroy us. there's an even greater risk right now. we are not talking about that on the discovery channel. we are not talk about the huge amount of data that makes human driven climate changes fact. you know, this is the sort of thing where, you know, if you ask me for an elevator speech. i have you for three minutes in an elevator. why should you believe that climate clang is real and that it is human driven? what are some of the most compelling arguments?
nasa has 20 satellites that deliver climate change data. it's one of the reasons why we have to protect our earth science budget. some of it is land fact, data about land use and the heavy of vegetation and the entire surface of the world for the last 43 years. we have a record of what things have changed during that time. my friends are flying -- research aircraft over the ice caps of the world right now. they are wonderful. they're incredible young scientists, young women especially and you know, we are measuring from orbit -- one of our satellites i'm most proud of is grace. and you know of it, do you? the thing with grace, grace is actually two spacecrafts that flies at 100 miles apart from each other. there's a microwave beam between the two of them. they can measure the distance accurate -- just tiny accuracy that is actually about 100 -- the diameter of 100 hair.
as these two fly, they respond to the mass underneath them. when one of them is flying over a mountain range it actually gets accelerated. they do a complete earth image every two days and they're doing this dance. and the reason we measure mass is that there are areas on the earth where mass is changing very quickly. and one of the things we can measure are aquifers, the amount of water deep under the ground from 300 miles up in space we can actually measure the amount of water in aquifers hundreds of feet below the ground. we see those aquifers draining. this is something that all of this data is not only free to everybody in america. it's free to everybody in the world. we want people to see these data. the other thing we're measuring is the health of the ice caps. and greenland was in reasonable
equilibrium. it was smaller in the summer. there was a cycle. for the last 15 years the ice cap on greenland which is a land based ice cap has lost 200 billion ton as year that has not been replaced. and if anything that trend is accelerating. antarctica the ice sheets there were stable until just a few years ago. and the western antarctic ice sheet is losing 200 ton as year and another ice sheet that is beyond saving. that water will go into the ocean. and at this point there isn't any way to reverse that trend. i think that's something you can say. and you know, people often ask me, are you allowed to say this as a nasa scientist and the answer is absolutely yes because these are the facs. what i'm not telling you about is policy as a federal official i cannot comment on what we
should do about whether we should do carbon cap and trade, about whether we should, you know not use fossil fuels. that is not my right as a federal official. i take that very seriously. i serve the united states government and you no matter what your political affiliation is. andly give you -- and i will give you the best information that nasa has about what's beginning on with climate change. it is not my place to argue about the politics of it. the idea -- the attack on what a scientist is you know, are we not allowed to be human? am i not allowed to go on television and say i'm scared? it's not that, you know, i'm going to tell you what to do, but i can tell you my emotional response. and it's become very apparent to nasa scientists that just delivering more and more data about ok we've got these fabs -- facts about the ocean. i can tell you it's not the sun. we've been studying the sun
very closely for 30 years. all of these data are not helping in the debate. and so instead we're trying to draw back into our skills as storytellers and as people and as emotional human beings trying to tell this story. and i'll wrap up with one quick sort of anecdote. if you ever wonder how much of an entertainment value people are getting out of this very important debate, i appeared on "fox & friends" with steve doocy. he had done a huge 10-minute piece about how nasa scientists were lying about the climate change record about how there was a temperature point from 134 -- 1934 and they moved it. this was immediately -- it was actually rated as pants on fire lie by pants on fire checker. they became more consistent
with weather stations. we calibrated for the height difference which is something you in boulder know about at 6,000 feet. i had all the facts and i went on the steve doocy show. and before the cameras rolled steve doocy was talking to me about this, about the facts, about the climate change data. and i was being very friendly and nonconfrontational saying your money pays my salary. and steve doocy, the cameras rolled. he gave me a very soft ball question about air quality and got me off. wouldn't even let me talk. so they're not interested in telling you what the facts are. they're interested in the entertainment, in the clicks, in the selling the ads on to tell vision shows. and you know, it's one of the things we have to decouple. what have you heard about climate change and why are you skeptical about it? it's something we have to delve
into. thank you. [applause] >> so for those of you not familiar on world affairs we will hold questions until each of the panelists have spoken. the next speaker is richard alley. >> -- richard: i am sitting there to trying real hard not to give michelle a standing ovation. we share friends and n.s.f. and nowwa -- nooaa. we were pointing about places that we are getting our food by pumping water out of the ground so fast that it's not being replaced that it's changing the orbit of sat light. people get that. all right. so and i'm a climate scientist so i'm one of the people who have gotten the occasional
e-mail that says you're an evil liar. i'm trying to get you fired. i'm going to watch you. i know where you are. i've also weighted into the evolution issues and i've editorialized on that. the people who do not want to see evolution taught tend to be much nice tore me than the people who do not want to see climate change taught. i'm a geologist and i do climate and i do ice sheets. if you come back at 3:00,ly tell you a little bit about how we can solve some of this. but i'm going to tiptoe into jim's world. but michelle gave me such a beautiful opening here. so there is some research on some of the many well springs of this i don't want to hear the facts. and i want to show you a little piece of that, not the whole thing, ok? and so first of all, i would
like you to think when you have ever been in one of the great cities of the world, paris or new york or whatever and tried to drive a car or seen somebody driving a car or at least when you heard about people driving cars in one of the great cities and i would like a show of hands very briefly how many of you have the impression that the great cities of the world are uniquely and beautifully designed to be absolutely optimal for moving the modern mix of traffic right? and there's a number of reasons for this. but one of them is that the great cities of the world are designed for an ox card coming to market 1,000 years ago. and they have built themselves around the streets that were built for an ox cart 1,000 years ago. they have built overpasses
underpasses and through passes but they are still preserving the streets from hundreds of years ago from an ox card. i want you to think of a baby, a one-year-old and a 2-year-old and how fast they learn and what they learn. and by the time they're 1 or 2, they have a naive physics. if i sit this in midair it will fall down. if i set it on something it will stay there. it sits there. and you know, i'm a baby and there are certain things that come out of me that require that my diaper be change. but a gaseous emission is not one of them. and i am learning who is a reliable source and who takes care of me and who my people
are and so forth. and i get a view of the world that is -- works. but a puppy grows up to be a dog. and if i throw something, it hits where i threw it. and now i go off to school and i -- i start learning science and the science has said this actually has a quantum way function and it could go two slots at the same time and i'm on this giant ball spinning all around the space and i'm falling through the center of mass all the time. and you know, those trace gases that come out of my rear end and the other ones that come out of your tail pipe are going to change the climate even though they don't matter because they don't have to change my diaper. and if you watch the puppy grow into a dog and you do that long enough and there's a reason to selection that affects survival you will get something that is different. and none of that makes any
sense. none of that is the ox cart that was laid down in my brain when i was 1. and when they've asked, you know, so you go to a 7-year-old and they've been told the world is round and people have done experiments and they have a little troubles with this, many of them do. they'll draw the world round with you living inside. or they'll draw the world round with a little divot and it may be 9 before you get this. and a small number of us -- apparently there's still a flat earth in society but eventually almost all of us get that. but we get it because all of the trusted authority figures in our world tell us that. and we have trusted authority figures. we have built very young sort of a hierarchy of who we're going to believe and where we're going to take our
information from. and when all of our trusted authority figures say yes the world is round we get it. but when some of our trusted authority figures say nasa is lying to you from the satellites. they're making up the data. they're sneaking it around. now the idea that maybe the gas that comes out of me doesn't change the world because i don't have to change my diaper, maybe you can stick wit. you done have to believe the scientists. and what we seen is this rise of authority figures who say that the two of us are evil liars, right? and so in some very real sense that we can go into our media bubble we can go into our cultural bubble and we can stay
there. and in some very real sense these media bubbles are a strapping reality. and i think i will pass it along to chip and see what he says to that. [applause] chip: haiku for climate change. reality bites. as sea levels keeps rising water nips our feet. [laughter] so there has to be a space that listens those this authority figures. i'm going to argue that the mass space has been groomed since the late 1800's to reject science, to reject what they call collectivism and reject big government all of which is evidence that climate
scientists are all agents of satan. it's ok. you can get over it. so it all starts with evolution, the big lie of science. and the catholic church and most mainstream denominations reach an accommodation with science by saying wasn't god clever? easy out, come on. and what happens unfortunately is that about the same time that this accommodation is happening there is the rise of organized labor in the united states which is a form of collectivism and which it is determined by a handful of protestant ministers to be a satanic distraction from the individual -- the rugged individualism that allows you to have a direct relationship with god. and so they become concerned with what are the fundamentals
and they actually write a pamphlet that is phone as "the fundamentals" and are known as fundamentalists and one of the fundamentalists is that science is a lie. because if you believe in science and evolution that the bible is a lie. if you believe that god is a very centered part of your life this is not something that you brush aside. it becomes engrained in your world view through the doctrine of your religious ideology or theeology. ok. let's go through a little roots of this. so how does this involve corporations today who are funding science deniers to go on tv and say things in the 1800's it's evolution. in the 1920's. it's bulceviccs.
35 to 45 roosevelt and a massive corporate funding of anti-big govept, anti-labor union, anti-collectivists organizing around the country. one of the most massive propaganda campaigns ever worked in the united states. in the 1950's we had the red scare against godless communism. let's not forget godless communism. in the 1970's we had the christian right which a number of scholars point out when you have the collapse of the soviet union, what happens is that the -- the scary threat becomes internal. there are internal sub verses just like in the red scare. and the internal subversives are people that want you to denounce this false claim of science and have taken position of high office both in the
political scene and in religion which happens to tie in to one of the most significant aspects of evangelical and fundamentalists christianity that is distinct in europe which is we are living in the end times, the apomliptic end time during which time trusted political and religious leaders will lie to you. and so that's what science is is the lackeys of political and religious leaders who are lying to you. sorry. so now who could possibly believe this? first of all apocket lipticically in the united states roughly 85% of the united states depending on how you do the polling as christian or at least they claim they go to church on sunday. actually a lot of them are lying to you. let's not go there. social science hozz gotten over
that. you have to ask leading questions that get them to admit it's on christmas and easter. i'm a christian and our kind of ranch got over that in the 1800's. so now what happens then is that this becomes the single largest voting block in the republican party is conservative fundamentalists an evangelicals who reject science because it interferes with their relationship to god. and so it then becomes part of an alliance which includes at the top corporate profiteers who, you know, really want to be making money because they're going to finish their chateau routierre before the rt is covered in a dust pan. it's taking an industry and
stripping it. except it's the earth so that sucks. so there are researchers on the gravy train already mentioned. there are the media exploiting politicians. i wrote this all yesterday. so i'm totally agreeing with you. it's a totally group of anarc cal libertarians that read websites. don't yell at me. i know it's a distinctively larger proportion of conspiracy theorists in boulder than the rest of you. but the biggest things is the conservative christians and fundamentalists that we're living in a time when satanic agents walk the earth and they're trying to get you to abandon god. if you're looking for this. it's science irks selectivism and big government are part of satan's plan. that the roots of the corporate manipulation don't start climate change. they start all the way back in
the late 1800's getting fundamentalists to reject labor unions because they are, in fact, a form of collectivism which divides you from god. it's nothing new except the stakes are much higher. and the joke is that these fundamentals believe in an apocalyptic outcome they're bringing it on. so for the first time, we actually have the able -- ability to create an apocalypse that you're not going to lose the bet. it's going to happen if we don't change things. you know what, they're going to change, i guess, you know, the apocalypse happened and it didn't happen the way we thought. but that would be a very free thought in their mind. [laughter] what can i say? so here's the thing as a person who does write about social science and a journalist and i
worked for a think tank for 30 years that researched right-wing social and political movements to help left wingers figure out why they were saying these things why there was not climate change or gay people should be shocked or hanged -- oh, that's only in certain states. i'm sorry. so it doesn't work to it doesn't work to say to them "your religion is a farce." he will not convince these people it is true. what does work is to talk about the difference between no dominion and stewardship. delmon is one way of understanding what god gave to humans. dominion means you get to do whatever you want. you get to shit in your own kitchen.
which is what we have been doing, let's be real. it is a theme in all major religions. not just this idea of serving the planet but seeking justice. there are some other ideas in islam and other states. i had with the note that if we want to convince the mass space of client -- climate the nihilism, we have to engorge people within the christian community to work on a way of engaging a dialogue with these people that gives them a back story to get out of because pushing them against a wall is not going to work. [applause] >> good morning. i thought i was going to be the
only christian on the science panel. i feel a little less alone. there are three of us, ok. [laughter] there are two main points i want to make and i have 9.5 minutes. the first -- you know, when we talk about science the nihilism, -- denaialism, what we are seeing is not just denial of the reality of global warming and the fact he climate is changing. that should be seen in the context of a nation where we now embrace what i call designer facts where we have given ourselves permission along political lines to reject any "fact" that does not compute with what we have already chosen to believe. i wrote a few years ago about
henry johnson, an african-american soldier in the first world war. he stood five feet, four inches, one hundred 50 pounds. he was an observation duty one night in 1918 went his post was overrun. no one knows the exact number of germans but the low count is one dozen. the hike count is close to 30. the miracle of the story is that henry johnson outnumbered the germans. he was one of the 21. he lived the rest of his life with one foot. it is this amazing story called the battle of henry johnson. it is an amazing story of this very slight african-american man who defeats a horde of germans. i wrote that story in the column and i got an e-mail from a gentleman who told me all of that one man defeat a dozen nazi
stuff is just "pc bunk." remember we are talking about world war i. [applause] it is just "pc bunk." i didn't blame him for not believing the story because it is an amazing story. we sent him -- what am i looking for? -- proof. when you get old, words fly out of your head. we sent him the proof of what happened. there is a quote from teddy roosevelt speaking of henry johnson's bravery. the story was covered in the saturday evening post, a number of history books. it is on the web. mr. thompson was not convinced. mr. thompson refused to believe even though we had overloaded
him with all of the verification that we could think of and this was one of the first incident that helped me to clarify what was going on in this country. the average to a point where we no longer have a pool of thaksin comment. previously, we had a pool of facts in common, assuming we all have goodwill. we all told from the same pool of fact and make our arguments and maybe i interpreted the full in one way and you do in another way but we are all pulling it from the same pool of facts. what is happened with the rise of the internet, with the rise of conservative news media and designer fact a right is that we no longer have the same pool of facts. i have a pool over here and you have went over there. in a real sense, we are talking past one another. you don't see this with science and thedenialism of the
climate change. what else do we think birthirism was about? we're talking about a president who was born into u.s. state whose birth was attested to not only by his birth certificate of a notifications in two contemporaryinous papers. yet they're all of these appearances debating whether or not barack obama was born in this country. the obvious fact is there is a need for some people to believe that there is something other or foreign about him so there are not enough fact you can bring to the table to convince them otherwise -- designer facts. that is the context in which we are swimming. the other point i wanted to make was one of the worst things that ever happened to science and
religion i think is when antiscience became seen as a religious value. it want to read from you a column i wrote a few years back when kansas was launching one of its schemes to allow the teaching of creationism in school and this sums up what i would buy to leave you with. here's the thing i keep coming back to -- why are those to accept every bible passage as literal truth so fanatical in their quest to make the rest of us not i said? why do you need to be seconded and the knowledge by anyone much less an agency of the government? if you know what you know, it seems as if you would be serene and the celebration of it. and the roughly 20 years come all the time they have sat by hook and crook to make their believes the law of the land serenity is an attribute they have seldom shown. indeed, it is not too much to say the characteristic that seems to mark them more
curiously enough is an abiding lack of faith. no faith in their ability to survive unaided in the marketplace of ideas, and what they say they know, and their ability to pass their knowledge on to their children, no faith. only be for the conflicting ideas and competing believes pose imminent threat that they and their children must detect -- he kept sealed to opposing views is destructive to their convictions. i've never perceived evolution theory as a compatible with religious eight. it contradicts the letter of genesis but not the essence. it confirms the essence that we are not accidents. we are told that humans and eight evolved from common ancestors. we are little before this, there were dinosaurs and before, cellular creatures, and before the primordial planet. i say fine.
who lit the fuse on the bang? only one name suggests itself to me which leaves me marveling at the weak kneed creed espoused by some come a believe so flimsy it boils of the first gust of contradiction. is his god so small it can be threatened by charles darwin? mine is not. that is a column i did in 2009. [applause] i have long felt that trying to use science to understand faith or faith to understand science is like using out about to understand -- algebra to understand poetry. they serve different ends, needs. there'sis idea that science must be
hammered into conformity with the letter of genesis is destructive. i think ultimately, it is distracted of religion because what it says to people like me end other is that -- you have heard abandoned faith allb ye who enter here. well abandon logic all who ye enter here. isaac to what my soul and my heart needs and understands and there is that which speaks to my intellect and i don't see that those things are necessarily in this life or death struggle that a lot of christians seem to feel. i think there is a weakness in what they call their faith that if they really really looked at it, they would be embarrassed by. i am not threatened by science.
i am enlightened by science. [applause] [applause] >> thank you all. before we get to the questions from the audience, i would like to offer to the panel members the opportunity to respond to the others. richard. >> i like to follow-up on leonard's statement. we have one of these efforts to teach false problems with evolution in pennsylvania and before i waited into it in a public way, i dropped in on our pastors. we are methodists. i showed them what i was doing and they said that is fine and what was happening there was they were trying to teach this so-called intelligent society, people were not biologists saying high school biology teachers should tell people they should leave because of who is
not a valid just claims -- a biologist claims biologists cannot explain something. you are unhappy with the lack of science in that but we are more unhappy with the lack of religion in that. this may be bad science but it is worse theology. you're completely correct. [applause] >> the thing that always amazes me with regard to faith's approach to science and to a lot of things is how often people of faith sort of give themselves a get out of jail free card from doing the hard interior work or the hard personal stuff we are required to do. it becomes instead -- i have always understood faith as an obligation to do for, not a license to hit someone over the head. i have often -- not to take it to sunday school but if you have ever read the sermon on the mound and all of the stuff you
are required to do, you could spend the rest of your life trying to live up to that. i have never lived up to that. you can live the rest of your lifetime to live up to the tenants and be a much better person and you would never have time to call a scientist and leave death threats on the telephone. [laughter] turn the other cheek. if a man takes your shirt, give them your clubs. if you take my shirt, we are fighting. that is still where i am. i think the same thing sometimes when i look at the more extreme proponents of islam. islam and the torah are variations of one person's saves the world entire. why aren't we neutral about that? -- literal about that? [applause] >> a bit of a social science
fact checked. there is no social science data that fundamentalist christians are any less intelligent or crazy than people in their own neighborhood. they tend to reflect background demographics up and down the scale. if you hear on liberal left radio and tv programs that these people are scary crazy ignorant people, it is not true. it is a lie just like science denial is a lie to get you to send money to washington rather than to organize and speak to your neighbors. [applause] >> let me throw out one question. nothing any of you said has made me feel any better. [laughter] ok, now it is time. how do we go from here to improve the situation? >> one of the things i think is that it is getting a little better. when the internet first became a
really, really prevalent part of my day, when maybe 5-10 years ago when we were starting up on lots of e-mail, social media, i had a greater volume of people that would say we are going to be killed by that asteroid or i saw a star is going to explode and kill us. there seemed to be a recalibration of us -- of especially young people and this is anecdotal. i would be interested to see data on how people are responding to this. there was this barrage of interest on all of these apocalyptic theories. that has calm down a bit. we had a large asteroid passing by a few weeks ago and i did not get one e-mail about it. we knew the orbit. i have actually seen a bit of wariness that i think is very encouraging.
again, i think it is anecdotal but there may be a cultural shift because the internet made the spreading of these ideas so tempting and easy at first and now maybe we are better consumers to some extent. >> [inaudible] >> i have here my smartphone. it is turned off. i have here my smartphone and it is a fascinating exercise to take this into a high school class and say what is it? what is it? and i have done this very recently and -- how would you make it? i would put some circuit boards together. what is a circuit board? right? this is about that much sand for the silicone and glass and that much oil for the plastic and some of the right rocks. some barriers -- various
elements and copper and that is all it is -- a sand, oil, and rocks with the right rocks. if you are to take the sand, oil, and rocks and take them into the senate and to say make me a smartphone. or give them to the football team and say make me a smartphone. this is science and engineering and a little design and marketing. einstein is in here. without relativistic populations -- calculations, your gps is going to drop you an new mexico in a week. you cannot design a computer without mechanics and this is communicating with the same transfer we used to calculate the changes in the climate. and there still are people in the world who will take this and send me a message and say scientists don't what they are talking about -- [applause]
but i actually think most of them know better now because this really is sand, oil, and rocks and science and engineering. [applause] >> all right. without further comments from the panel, we will turn to the question period. let me remind you if there are students who would like to ask questions, please allow them to go to the front of the line and also remind you that there are two microphones. all questions should come from one of the -- or the other of these two microphones so feel free to lineup behind the people already there to ask questions and finally, let me remind you not to make statements. we have an expert panel here and these are questions to allow the panel members to expand on the subject. for the first question --
>> is he a student? >> it is hard for us to see you from here. student first. go ahead. >> here is the question. you commented on the profit motive of the corporate driven anti-climate change junk science. would you comment on the profit motive of the industry among religious right leaders in their science denial? >> he is one of my pastors. i have been to his church here but he is an old friend and he was one of the first people to write about the danger of the religious right because it turns out many of the leaders of the religious right live a very lavish lifestyle and they raise millions and tens and millions
of hundreds of millions of dollars to build their little empires and for a religion that is supposed to reject the profit motive as a core element of one's being, it is always remarkable that a lot of the leaders of the christian right have come in fact, been extremely clever practitioners of a kind of rotation is a form of fundraising and scaremongering. it is a blemish on christianity. >> the only thing i would add is that i think the politicization of faith, while it may be lining someone's coffins of the short run, i think in the long run, it is proving to be damaging to faith. i wrote about this survey a couple years ago. religion is by some measures on
the decline in this country. the percentage of people identifying themselves as christians is on the decline. the percentage of people who believe in god is not declining. and a lot of ways, by making the church of whatever denomination seems to be a wholly owned subsidiary of the republican party -- a lot of these folks are doing them a disservice because people who are looking for the comfort or the genuineness that they find in church nevertheless don't want to be identified with what seems to be church in media these days which is hateful and science of denying and not very good. ultimately, the church this is a challenge from itself or from some of its more extreme members that this entire idea of god as a political candidate who abhors the climate science is really
not a good business model. [applause] [applause] >> so, people who are discrediting science -- is that coming from the human race becoming more gullible, from the internet becoming an easier way to learn any kind of knowledge? is it coming from our politicians having such radical beliefs that we believe them because they are our authority figures? is it coming from interpretation of religion differently? >> there is nothing new under the sun. 1906, the earthquake knocked down san francisco and the real estate developers are beside themselves. they were just about to make a killing. now the people of the east are
scared to go to san francisco. scientists say that relieved the worry. they promote that. they say there might be another one and they try to hold that down. a setup early warning system so when the next quake hits, you can call austin and washington and say there is no wary. -- no worry. they started this campaign -- it wasn't an earthquake him it was a fire. the earthquake break the gas lines, it breaks the electric lines that sparked the gas lines. the earthquake makes the water line so you cannot put out the fires and the city burns down. it was a fire but that is not 100% the entire story. the business of when people feel they are living or their beliefs are threatened, they try to defend them and they try to defend them with all the tools available to them is not new. what i think is new is how efficiently this has gotten.
>> it is a dynamic relationship that starts with the corporate profiteers, the researchers that get paid july -- i am sorry get paid to do serious research. -- get paid to lie. get subcultures that live in information silos and these information silos are impenetrable except with face-to-face communications and that is not how the democrats work anymore. they don't release organize people anymore. it don't try to go out and convince people to change the way they think about something. a put ads on tv saying republicans are idiots and scary and are going to ruin america and the republicans do the same thing and as a nation, we don't talk to each other and discuss ideas like we do at cwa. [laughter] [applause] >> i am a retired medical
research scientist and one of the interactions i had was finding that the amish would come to the hospital for their children with meningitis but they would not that's nate their children for the same disease. -- that's nate their children for the same disease. i sent a mennonite resident out to define what the problem was and she found that each parishioner had a very different inside. my question is the following -- if you are religious right, it is almost mandatory that when you are dying from cancer, you will show up to the medical profession and get the latest.
death obviously has a major difference of opinion. can you speak on that? we are all mortal and what is it about death that brings us back to science? [laughter] [applause] >> fear. i mean -- a one-word answer. it is fearful. [laughter] >> to some very real extent come you can reject science and still benefit from it in this nation up to some level and some of the science denial is fairly low-cost to sun communities. at the point when your life is on the line, because level goes up. >> i hate to advertise another panel but they put me on a panel about science and religion tomorrow which i am dreading because it is not my expertise
and i don't really think the two intersect very much. one of the things people don't understand about science and being a scientist is that we do not believe we have found truth. as amazing as the equations of albert einstein are -- and i studied graduate level quantum mechanics -- we cannot find one small deviation from these laws set up on hundred years ago. one you measure around a black hole, einstein is absolutely correct that -- but we know he is not the end all be all truth. his the don't work inside an atom and they are the laws of quantum mechanics. when you are scientist, you give up this idea of their other being an answer and a truth. that does, of course influence my view of spirituality. i live in a world where you learn to swim in doubt in
beautiful, complex, ever increasingly accurate, getting toward the truth but not ever getting there. there is a beauty to trying to lose your ego in that and i think people often think that scientists don't respond emotionally to what they learn. i don't think that is true. we are fairly sure time does not exist the way we think it does. it is not a simple regression from start to end. the modern laws of physics and particle physics almost require that to not true. -- not to be true. in some other dimensional view you can see all of my life from beginning to end because we believe the big bang most likely created all of time as well as all of space. time from start to end what ever that means was created. i have seen and my husband
sometimes -- we expect to die and not have anything after death. when the universe began, i was holding your hand and when the universe will end, i will be holding your hand. there is another way to be and swim in doubt and still find beauty. [applause] >> i hate to come back to prosaic after that. it is worth keeping in mind that as a scientist, we give up the idea that we have reached truth. our job as educators is to make sure that we promote those students who will find the things we missed and we still educate so we know there are things we missed. the practical parts -- this building was not built with quantum wave functions or relativity, it was built.
we do not overthrow when we change the big picture, we add to them. when einstein came in, newton's calculations for how you make this the default building stand up did not go away. he finding people who say science is not absolute truth therefore everything you know about climate change will change tomorrow and we shouldn't believe you. no. he tested arts tend to go on and i am a physicist and a lot of ways and newton is still fine from designing this building. [applause] >> i just want to cosign what michelle said about swimming in doubt. that is not just science. that is faith. that is my experience as well. i think there is this misconception that faith drives out doubt but i think the only people who don't have questions
are people who are not thinking. i don't care what your religious background is. i think it is truer to say for me that faith and doubt live side-by-side. one of my favorite stories from the bible has a man approaching jesus and saying "lord, heal my son if you can." jesus takes offense and says "if i can?" and he says "lord i believe. help my unbelief." >> i will wrap it up by saying i very much understand that. it is a great lie that scientists are not people of faith and there is huge range of interpretation of the universe and the approach to god that scientists have. i think, going back to what we're talking about about doubt about anything means you don't
know anything again this is something they have thrown at us a lot in the climate science debate. scientists, when you publish a paper is when you does prove something or you find something new. your career is on the edge of what we know and that is not negate the huge amount of stuff we do know. for the climate not to respond to what we are doing to it would break the laws of physics. there is a lot we know and they will say -- this may surprise you. we only made the first actual measurement of all global precipitation that could measure all of the precipitation going around the globe at once. that was the first time we ever made that measurement. there is a lot we don't know about the climate system because we don't have the data yet. how much snow was falling? should we worry about methane or other gases? there are a lot of things we have to find out and that is why
we have 20 satellites up there doing these measurements. none of that -- trying to figure out the details -- negate the fact we know this is happening. that is really well-established and that is another miss truth i am very angry about a people talk about what scientists are doing. [applause] >> next question. >> to michelle and leonard. my question comes from reflecting on what is at least to me a new insight that this panel has expressed and especially leonard that anti-science is a statement of religious faith, which is the religious faith in a week god and this week god is a circumstance of personal fear and perhaps pathological cultural fear, which ends up as
an expression of a feeling of helplessness. our national passive escape from that is material consumerism and financial development. i wonder if you all could comment on that election of a weak god with a cultural fear and sense of helplessness which promotes escapism. [laughter] >> umm. i have heard it said that wisdom -- i'm not sure if this will answer your cluster manatt -- wisdom begins when instead of -- having what you want, you want to want what you have. i think there is definitely a
sense in this country that satisfaction can be found at the mall and joy and completeness and whatever. i think the attraction of faith is that there is a sense of -- one of the attractions -- is it offers the possibility of completeness, the possibility of being satisfied within your own self. i think that that is antithetical to consumerism because the entire issue of consumerism is that it is made to feel you and complete. you're not doing so well but if you buy this car, if you get this soda, if you buy this brand of whatever, your life will be complete. it is always a state of incompletion because there is always something else to buy.
i have an iphone 5. the latest is a 6 -- i don't know. i have the previous model. there is a multimillion dollar campaign out to get me to upgrade this to whatever the next model is even though this works perfectly fine. leonard, you're in complete until you get the next iphone. it is a constant shale game. i just decline to buy into it. i do not believe consumer goods will make me a better person. [applause] >> as i mentioned when i started my opening statements, it is not something the scientists are trained for. it is not part of education to deal with these questions. the interesting thing is how much that is changing. alan alda has an amazing incident for science to medication and we are working with storytellers and
psychologists and people from many different cultural traditions. this is a true story. there was a meeting at nasa headquarters and we were going to be talking about advertising strategies and people posting it said mars. i said, we're going to talk about the mars planet. it turned out to be the mars candy company. [laughter] they brought in advertising executives for mars and they were talking about how they design an advertising campaign. we cannot advertise as a federal agency but it is starting to behoove us to understand how this is done. i am sure i'm not saying anything that mars would not want me to say because i know this is probably advertising one no one -- 101. immediately when we went in there, they were talking about their candy bar campaigns and the way they design the campaign has nothing to do with the candy. we are selling self-esteem.
there was one they were talking about where they were advertising a body spray for young men. the immediate first line of the campaign is "adolescent male insecurity with body." that is what we are shooting for. they identify are psychological tendencies and they know they are not selling candy, they are addressing those. they also said that for a person -- more people buying a candy bar was more important then return customers. not part of the training of the scientists. when it comes to what they are selling us, what doubt, what very simplistic views of religion -- you are right, you are wrong, you believe in god, you don't. anybody asks me if i believe in
god -- if i say no, that is does that mean we believe in the same thing? that is a dinner conversation not an answer, not a word. we become easy consumers when things are very simplified and they're are going after our innate insecurities about death fear, body image, all these things. [applause] >> so, what would be steps that everybody can take to eliminate the believe that scientists are liars and basically bring science and religion together and just eliminate the anti-scientific belief? >> there are some very simple solutions. the part that before and it sounds cliché but i spend a lot
of time in congress on capitol hill. i spend a lot of time in the actual offices and i am amazed about how much they respond. they will come in and say what are the e-mails today saying? they really do pay attention to your letters. e-mails and written letters and phone calls. written letters probably most. the other thing is i am really encouraged by some of the public figures in science. neil tyson, whom i have known a little bit. i think he will get his own television program. neil is a really good public representation of the scientists . he is funny, snarky, geeky, a good dancer. he release skewers the stereotype but at the same time, i find him very authentic as a
scientist. my only criticism of his television show is that he was not given script writing credit and when i saw the show, it seemed more like a tribute to carl sagan who i love and it didn't have kneels humor -- neil 's kumar. i think they're wonderful role models coming up and put pressure on your politicians. they feel it and they will listen. i am a scientist at nasa and i will respond to your e-mails in the morning. why am i responding to that one person with there are thousands of people who might have a similar question? they got to me. they sent me an e-mail. [applause] >> this has been a panel. what -- an excellent panel. my only regret is there is not a
science denier on the panel because i love to hear what they had to say. a lot of what you have said has gone to religious faith and its effect on science denial but i think there is another cynical component to it. i saw a trailerr the other day called merchants of doubt that talks about how people are paid to cynically planted out in our minds about all of these things be it cigarettes or automobile safety or flightsafety or climate change. i would like to hear you address that a little bit. >> that is integrity denial. there are always going to be those people who lack integrity and are willing to pander to the basest instincts or money. that is as old as science and religion. >> this seems like an odd thing to say but if it is good data, i
will take it from the lever has it. the problem is that data. for example -- bad data. the koch brothers sponsored climate change research. their scientists came up with the same conclusion the nasa scientists did. there are occasions where studies sponsored by all companies produce useful data and that is why we have peer-review. it sounds so ivory tower-ish. people tell me they have a great idea for a new type of jet engine and i will tell them there is a process for this. there is a process for submitting papers, having discoveries, people replicating your results, looking through your data. they say, i don't want to take that time. that is why we have the process. i think there needs to be of
course a lot of transparency about who is being supported by companies. that is one of the things about being a fully federally funded scientist is we are not allowed to do that. i'm not allowed to take money from anybody. i gave a talk last week and they gave me a $100 check and i had to give it right back. from the discovery channel -- all of those tv appearances, not a penny. i cannot take anything from them. if the koch brothers sponsored a climate study and the data is good, bring it on. i'm not afraid of real observation, real debate. >>. doesn't go to the issue of we live in a society that claims to be a democracy based on informed consent and there is an industry of lying to people for political profit. we live in a society that has abandoned the idea that we have that love shared knowledge and that we have an ability to
debate these things because we don't anymore so we live in an anti-democratic oligarchy heading toward learning to grow fins. [laughter] [applause] >> next question. >> does it make sense to you to be a science believer when it comes to climate change science and a science denier when it comes to vaccine safety? >> not sure who you are talking to but i would bet there are many people in this room who are very seriously engaged in making sure that vaccines are safe and this is done with science and with literature and we actually know a lot about it and that seems have saved a fantastic number of lives. [applause] >> there is no good science that says vaccines are unsafe. i am sorry. the entire study was
discredited. that person was on the payroll of a drug company trying to do a different vaccine. we know the whole story. it is one of the things i have to say has shocked me a bit coming to boulder. i have met some wonderful, excellent people here who are not in favor of vaccinating their children and ims very much in the spirit of civil discourse. i am very polite and i am very frightened. [applause] >> my question sort of rides on that one a bit from science that we sort of pick and choose. we have been talking about people accepting science or fixed in their ways. we have the gluten thing -- that is scary and think come out and say that is wrong. people take things.
how do we influence the people that are taking data, picking it, and refusing to switch when new data comes out? >> science -- we are supposed to look for the next new thing. we are supposed to try to break what was there and find something. the next science paper, maybe the next new thing and it may not be. one paper is not science and you know this very well. governments have worked out ways to find out what the scientists know what was the public watching. it is a fantastic story during the civil war. lincoln signed the document for the national academy of sciences that makes them the advisors to the nation on matters scientific and now we have a national academy of engineering and the institute of medicine. the civil war breaks out.
what had been the u.s. navy is now splintered and some of the ships sail out and some of them get burned. one of the ones burned was the virginia of the merrimack, a steamship. the confederate raises her, they cover her in iron and they are trashing the union. they fight do i draw and in two weeks, every navy is building ironclad ships. you have just put giant chunks of metal on your compass. you're out in the middle of the night, which way is north? they call the national academy of sciences and they asked how do you find north? to this day, what does the academy do? it gets the full range of use scientifically. gets them to sit in the public eye for the public good without paying them and ask what do we
know that is a solid, speculative, silly? in the mid-70's, newsweek wrote an inflammatory piece on the roles getting colder. the academy said we are getting warmer but you shall we do a little research. they have said it will get warmer ever sense. when bush was elected, he said the academy says what is going on. not panel including the prominent skeptics say yeah we are making it warmer. the difference between one paper and the assessed science coming out of the academy, the society, the panel on climate change -- be wary of the next paper and look for the voice of science to link together what is known in the public eye. [applause] >> iem souris -- i am sorry for
the people did not get to ask their questions but we are out of time and i would like to thank this fabulous panel. [applause] >> coming up tomorrow, middle east scholars and industry officials talk about the implications of recent changes in saudi arabia's leadership on the global energy market and regional stability. live coverage starts at 10:00 a.m. eastern. >> this summer, book tv will
cover book festivals from around the country and top nonfiction authors. this week, live at book expo america in new york city where the publishing industry showcases their up coming books. in june, we are alive for the chicago tribune lit best. -- fest. near the end of june, watch for the annual roosevelt reading festival from the franklin d roosevelt presidential library. in the middle of july, we are live at the harlem book fair with author interviews and panel discussions and at the beginning of september, we are live from the nation's capital for the national book festival celebrating its 18th year. a few of the events this summer on c-span 2's book tv. >> community advocacy groups talk about the impact of