tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN May 29, 2015 12:30am-2:31am EDT
ex excepted. where nobody was deliberately seeking to undermine the public's acceptance of or by raising doubts about being 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 to matters a -- matters a 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 giving them a backdoor to get out of pushing them up against the wall isn't going to work. >> 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]
on the next washington journal brendan sasso will talk about internet access for the poor. then former fda center for food safety director richard williams and michael jacobson from science and the public interest will look at oversight and regulation of the food industry. later, keri geiger with bloomberg news talks about the decision to indict 14
individuals with fifa, the world soccer association. >> here are some of our featured programs for this weekend of the c-span networks. on c-span, saturday starting at noon politicians, white house officials, and business leaders offer advice and encouragement to the class of 2015. speakers include former president george w bush. at 9:15 p.m., former staff members reflect on the presidency of george h w bush. sunday at noon, more commencement speeches from across the country with former secretaries of state condoleezza rice and madeleine albright and philadelphia mayor michael nutter. on c-span two, book tv in new york city beginning at 10:00.
live call-in segments with publishers and authors throughout the day. sunday at 9:00 on "afterwards" kenji yoshino talks about prop eight, the law that took away the right for same-sex couples to get married in california. sunday afternoon just before 2:00, the life and death of our 20th president james garfield, who served almost two decades as a company from ohio and was assassinated 200 days into his term of president. get our complete schedule at c-span.org. >> community advocacy groups and law enforcement officials talk about the impact of mass incarceration on african-american communities and ways to reform the leasing in those places.
this event was hosted by the center for american progress and runs about 1.5 hours. >> good morning. my name is winnie and i'm the executive vice president of external affairs here at the center for american progress. thank you for joining us for the important conversation about terminal justice reform. we are proud to be hosting it with the national network. the u.s. is the world's leader in incarceration with 2.2 million people currently in the nation's jails and prisons. a 500% increase over the past 30 years. these trends have resulted in prison overcrowding at a rapidly expanding penal system despite increasing evidence that
large-scale incarceration is not the most effective means of achieving public safety. while acknowledging the need to continue working toward keeping our community safe, the impact of over criminalization and over incarceration resonates throughout our country. between 70 and 100 million americans for as many as one in three have a criminal record. a criminal history carries lifelong barriers that can block successful reentry and participation in our society. this has broad implications not only for the millions of individuals who are prevented from moving on with their lives and becoming productive citizens , but also for their families, communities, and the national economy. today a criminal record serves as both a direct cause and consequence of our poverty
, presenting obstacles to employment, housing, public assistance, education, family reunification and more. one recent study finds that our nation's poverty rate would have dropped by 20% from 1980 to 2004 if not for mass incarceration and subsequent criminal records that hot people for years after they have paid their debt to society. in fact, a criminal record makes achieving economic security nearly impossible. the impact of mass incarceration on communities of color is particularly staggering and is a significant driver of racial inequality in the united states. people people of color make up more than 60% of the population behind bars. recent events and in baltimore and other american cities highlighted many of the challenges facing our communities. high poverty, lack of opportunity, and rampant inequality.
they have also shown a light on serious questions about police practices and the tensions between our community members and the law enforcement officials sworn to protect them hoping to further fuel the call for comprehensive criminal justice reform. the center for american progress and to the criminal justice reform space to add our voice and resources to the vital policy debate and the efforts to reform the criminal justice system at the state and federal level. we're working to make the criminal justice system more equitable and fair. this work includes urging policy changes that would keep our communities safe while ending mass incarceration over criminalization, particularly as it impacts poor communities and communities of color, supporting policies that remove barriers to socioeconomic opportunities for those with criminal records and supporting ways to address the racial and socioeconomic inequities within the criminal
justice system itself. many many of the reforms being discussed would actually promote and enhance the safety of our communities. we are proud to be collaborating to present today's discussion of how we can begin to reverse the trend of overcome causation of people of color and address its lasting consequences, including reforming consequences including reforming policing practices and removing barriers to opportunity for people with criminal records you are in for -- criminal records. you're in for a treat today. next, we'll have pastor michael mcbride who will deliver some opening remarks. pastor mike will then be followed by heather and thompson -- heather anne thompson
professor of history at the , university of michigan who recently served on the national academy of sciences blue ribbon panel that studies the causes and consequences of mass incarceration. she will then she we will then present the panel's findings. finally todd cox, senior fellow for criminal justice reform will lead a fantastic panel discussion on these issues. thank you for being here and i will now turn it over. [applause] >> it is good to be here. certainly we are glad to be able to partner once again with the center for american progress. i certainly am a black preacher. i we will read my remarks because i i can easily become intoxicated with the exuberance of my own verbosity. [laughter] they tell me i have a time limit. one day a man was walking along the big of a river and saw a baby floating downstream.
the -- he quickly walked into the water to pull the baby out. another woman walking down the river bank saw another baby in the water. she jumped in. there were more babies floating down the river. they both began to jump in and pull them out. after engaging in these life-saving acts they realize there were still babies coming down the river. they looked at each other and said we have to go as far upstream to find out who exactly throwing these babies in the water. this is a metaphor for how many of us, community members, all of us who find ourselves caught in the current of floating down the river. we use this metaphor to help remind us that our quest for seeking justice in the cities where too many of our loved ones
are drowning down a river of lack of opportunity, over criminalization, incarceration violence, that we have a a responsibility to not just have conversations but to go as far upstream as we can to change the system, structures command conditions that make these realities possible. i believe we have a sacred moment and unique occasion the rise up and meet this challenge because the blood of the innocents are crying out us from the street. the pain of the excluded are reverberating from city to city and the demands for reform and even in some places revolution a -- are bubbling up from every corner of our country. and yet all of us who are participating in these efforts and movements must resist the urge to take the easy way out by reaching for the lowest hanging fruit and doing what i call a race to the bottom rather than achieving the kind of transformative structural reform
and change that i believe our families deserve. sadly, i believe we have not yet risen to the challenge. i come here today just a few days remove from participating national days of action to say her name, highlight the many many women who are being lost to state violence and the response of our city leaders who claim to be progressive democrats similar to the response of many others. polanco progressive leadership and it was the response of tear gas, arrested, detainment, intimidation military style weapons and tactics that i believe should not be in the streets of our neighborhood which brings me to this quote that doctor king said.
myat least i read it all the times i think he said it all the time where he says i have almost , reached the regrettable conclusion that the negroes great stumbling block in their stride toward freedom is not the ku klux klan but the white moderate who is more devoted to order the justice. -- to order than to justice. today, i will modify the white moderate to include black moderates. reached a place of power and privilege that makes us more inclined to reach for order them for justice. this is why in our work we believe that every revolution must 1st be an intern al revolution. a revolution of our values arts, minds, and so. indeed on -- our hearts, minds, and souls in indeed, on our watch the prison industrial complex has quintupled. indeed on our watch we have seen the expansion of the criminalization people of color taking a many manifestations including the internalizing of that even in our own communities
and the concrete housing of that -- and they concretize a that in the general public. these conditions have reached a tragic concern level, and i believe as people of faith we are not just fighting for the future of our country. we are fighting for the soul of our nation. so in this spirit, we are determined to bring a moral imperative and prophetic declaration of these conversations. we have listened the thousands of voices. we have attempted to help facilitate the coalescing of demand the concerns. we believe that we believe that these strategies will continue to inform our countries coming out of the wilderness of mass causation and hopefully's leading us into a future where all of us are able to live free from incarceration, violence and exclusion.
some of you will hear very powerful voices the day that we have gathered in partnership with the center for american progress. many of these folks are leaders in their own right. we are blessed and humbled that they have joined the very informative. we want to stand up to for scalable movement that is grounded in the truth that all black lives matter, brown lives matter, the lives of poor and marginalized people are not expendable in this democracy we will continue to believe that those are created a policy apparatus that makes mass criminalization possible should not have a a free path to superintend the process to restructure, repair and heal heart. many why in the collective
-- many solutions lie in the the collective experiences and wisdom of those who have endured these react -- realities and still have the love and resilience to stand up proudly and proclaim and fight for their own freedom. so today we start here at cap. for the 3rd time we we will participate leading into the white house to ask for an executive order's to make sure some 30 million jobs can be available to those who have served their time and are now in need of full inclusion. we will go to the senate, house, and carry these messages. we invite you all to join us as we raise this banner, as we go as far upstream as we possibly can and meet the occasion is before us. i will close with the words of isaiah the prophet.
please don't be mad at me. this is the prophet speaking. they killed the prophet so i guess some of them were mad when they spoke. i want to live a little while longer. i can't stand it in margaret special meetings, -- i cannot stand anymore of your special meetings conferences, weekly worship , services. meetings for this call meetings for that. you have one me out. i i am sick of your religion. you go right on doing one. -- doing wrong. when you put on your next performance of prayer and speaking, no matter how long used become i will not be listening. you want to know why? he have been tearing people to pieces in your hands a bloody. go home, wash up, clean up your act, act, sweep your lives clean of evil doings. i don't have to look at them any longer. say no to wrong. learn to do good. work for justice. help the down and out. stand up for the homeless. go to bat for the defenseless. this is the moral call that we are bringing to this work and are excited it's to be making these journeys.
god bless you. let's have a great conversation today. [applause] >> good morning. i am on it to be with you this morning to offer you an overview of a report that i have the honor to participate in my two-year study that we think will be helpful to all of us assembled here today who are interested in doing the important and vital work of criminal justice reform. i was privileged to serve as a member of the consensus panel to address one of the most important issues of our nation which is the fourfold increase in rates of incarceration. our task was to examine and come up with recommendations for how we might remedy it. our panel is convened by the national research council and
organized by the national academy of sciences, and asked -- and esteemed organization chartered by congress in 1863 by the lincoln administration. its intent was to serve as a source of independent research-based advice to the government and to society. in this case, the research was assembled by a group of panelists, 20 scholars were on the country who came together over two years with a very specific charge. the specific charge was to ask these questions. what changes in us society and public policy drove the rise of incarceration? what consequences of these changes had for crime rates? what effect does incarceration have on those in confinement? on families and children and neighborhoods and communities and so forth? and what are the implications for public policy of the evidence on causes and effects?
are report was subject to anonymous external review by groups of scholars and policy experts following the rigorous review procedures of the national research council, and the reason i mention that is because we hope this report will arm you can help you to give the information you might need to take your communities and help you to go forth. conducting your own work on this issue. let me quickly highlight our main conclusions. some of these we will be obvious. we hope to give it some weight given where this came from. our 1st conclusion is that the gross incarceration rates' historically unprecedented and internationally unique. historically unprecedented because you might notice the incarceration rate remains relatively stable until suddenly it didn't want to just went -- when it just went through the roof. indeed we are an international outlier of virtually any country and indeed today we now have
more people in prison than any other country. it is also important that we recognize formerly that this incarceration did not fall evenly on all americans. it was severely racially disproportionate and include the mentally ill and was overwhelmingly inclusive of people living in poverty. indeed incarceration rates for african americans is been for after six naptime's higher than whites. incarceration rates for hispanic have been two to three times higher. the committee found that the chart is stratified by levels of education. we noted for example that the incarceration rate for black men with little schooling is more than 100 times higher than for white men who had been to college. by beginning with a historical perspective and are report which we invite you to read, download an access fully explored many
things. how is it that we came to this turn of events? we underline and located several causes. indeed crime rates did begin to rise. -- in the late 1960's. but we did not locate that so much. we located this in a policy decision. policymakers, politicians responding to civil rights unrest, responding to demands from the streets and deciding that disorder and crime were synonymous was a political decision, and as a political decision that is something we can change. we also talked about the direct causes. these will be familiar to you. we criminalize bases in new ways, for example through the drug war we also overhauled sentencing. sentencing was a direct cause of so many -- such a high rate of incarceration. indeed the volatile political environment provided fertile ground.
we discussed and we discussed and went through indeterminate sentencing, laws reducing judge discretion, sentencing laws and so forth. the bottom line is that we chose this policy, and that choice right best changes to our country, the primary being these unprecedented incarceration rates. the thing is if we chose it that means we can on shoes it. -- we can on shoes it -- we can unchoose it. the research indicates very strong reasons why we must's first of all, increase incarceration rates did not relate to a depreciable declining crime. a very important finding particularly when taking this argument to the community. indeed not only did it not lead to an appreciable decline in crime or was not correlated to a climbing crime that we also found that it did not have strong deterrent effect. long sentences did not have strong deterrent effect and therefore had its own negative impact.
yet if it did not work it certainly had a lot of other negative impacts which we also document in the report. we know for example it had a terrible effect on people within prison and that it had a terrible effect on communities outside of prison. particularly in communities with high rates of concentrated incarceration. i won't belabor these. of course, everything from severe unemployment, rising rates of poverty, weakening of family bonds for children losing parents command i can go forward. this all adds up to our main conclusion that we have gone past the point where the numbers of people in prison can be justified many potential benefit and indeed the consequences have been so far-reaching it will be quite a task to undo it. but one that we must. i will leave you with principles
that we also came to based on research for relatively normative principles. we hope that these we will arm us as we go forward. we have policy recommendations as well which i invite you to look at. we we suggest that these policies need to be informed by certain principles. these are principles that we hold important as americans living in a democracy. the principle of proportionality requires the people who have committed crimes should be sentenced and proportion to the severity of the crime. the principle of parsimony requires the confinement should never be greater than necessary to achieve legitimate social purpose. the committee observed that many of the sentencing statutes enacted over the four decades previous failed to observe any of these long-standing democratic jurisprudential principles. the principle of citizenship which requires humane treatment of those in prison and has been embraced by the international community, federal courts in
numerous places that we have abandoned and indeed these principles have been strained by the current corrections policies and practices. finally, our committee which is very much based in science to my rigorous review of literature came up with the overwhelming principle of social justice which would require the prisons should be viewed as social institutions that must not undermine the well-being of members of society. indeed pursuing indeed pursuing this principle would require greater retention, oversight transparency, and more. again, these guiding principles strengthened our overriding recommendations that we must reverse course and reduce the levels of incarceration and then we had actual's -- i'm sorry, policy recommendations overhauling sentencing policy recommending that we eliminate or at least re-examine mandatory minimum sentences, long sentences and the enforcement of
drug laws, will reinvestigate prison policy improving the conditions of confinement and also reduce the honda families -- they harm to families and communities of those incarcerated. finally, to assess the social needs of the committee, housing, treatment for mental illness employment, all of the things that have created so much, and communities and indeed that incarceration has made far worse. i thank you for your attention. [applause] and they give you a quick overview, but it is my understanding that i can take questions. this this is a 500 page report. i will put the last slide up it is something you can download with charts, issue briefs, all kinds of information that we hope will be of use to you. i am certainly willing to answer questions as well.
>> thank you. how many scholars were formerly incarcerated for directly impacted by the growth of incarceration? two questions. why is structural discrimination , which in my humble opinion the elephant in the room not listed as the underlying cause of incarceration? >> okay. wonderful question. we had one of the members, one of the scholar members was formerly incarcerated. the requirement of the national academies to put together the community was a -- the committee was a scholarly requirement. that is to say we had to have various recommendations that we brought from our homework. for example, i am a historian. we had historian. we had sociologists, putting the scientists, but we very much make sure that in our review of the literature we took the voices, concerns and indeed experiences of the formerly incarcerated in incarcerated seriously.
for example one of our key , members on the community has done a tremendous amount of work on solitary confinement. we had a real imperative on this committee to make sure that when we were doing studies they were not just top-down studies that we very much take seriously the voices of the people who were most impacted. what was the second, i'm sorry? the structural discrimination. yes. i invite you to look at chapter four of the report. even though our actual, what we came down to actual policy recommendations limited number the report and those recommendations came out of a deeply historical analysis of the root causes. while i highlighted a few i think you'll find that we pay great attention to long-term issues of policing in poverty and so forth. and that would be in chapter four. yes. go ahead.
>> good morning. thank you. i ask this question based on the 20 years i spent patrolling the streets of washington, d.c., as a police officer. part of the growth of the incarceration stop licking. the police are the gatekeepers. and so how do you -- what we have seen were baltimore and other places, the justice department is supposed to be providing oversight. on police departments. how do you recommend that we 1st deconstruct the police culture? because, if the police are the gatekeepers, you have to deconstruct that mission before you can change the police. so how do you see the faith community and policymakers coming together to deconstruct the mission of the police. >> it is a wonderful question. i have to answer it in two ways.
as a committee member, as the committee, we did look at policing come all the police and policing did not end up in our recommendations. by extrapolation our recommendation, to change the policies that feed into high rates of incarceration certainly would begin with the immediate implementation of policies on the ground. which is policing. speaking to you as an individual and myself as a fellow and someone who works on these issues, i do think that the issue of policing is front and center and is very much now linked to issues of incarceration much more so than it was only embarked upon this report. and i credit the people of the streets for making that the case. people have spoken people have spoken and make clear that we cannot talk about incarceration without policing. i welcome your comment and certainly as an advocate i support that and think we cannot change that culture, that implementation if police officers on the street are expected to continue this low-level policing of drugs and so forth.
great question. okay. apparently i am not allowed to , take any more questions. we will move forward to our panel. i'm sorry, to todd. thank you. [applause] todd good morning. : i am a senior fellow here at the center for criminal justice reform. we have been discussing the broken criminal justice system manifested incarceration over criminalization.
it is a major driver of inequality, particularly racial inequality and poverty here in this country. this all has important civil rights implications but also important human rights implications not the least of which how we achieve the opportunity to have the right to live a life with barriers to basic economic security and human dignity. we are also prepared to answer a few important questions. such as what obligation in society do we have and what are the consequences for all of us if we fail to restore justice to communities and acknowledge the humanity of our fellow community member? how do we ensure we respectfully and genuinely speak out's, and -- seek out and finally what can we do to strike a proper balance between keeping the committee safe are the same time addressing the structural inequities in the criminal justice system. today, we today we are proud to
welcome distinguished panel will help us sort through these questions. we don't have lot of time. i am going to invite you to take a look at our website. i will introduce them briefly. president of hope baptist church. judith conti, a federal advocacy coordinator at the national wild project. ronald davis director of the oriented policing services and pastor darren ferguson amount, baptist church in rockaway new york. and finally, a lea michele gaza the cofounder of black lives matter. i will start with you, reverend ferguson. could you talk a little bit about your work in new york and how that has informed what you see as what we need for criminal justice reform. reverend ferguson: i am a formally incarcerated individual.
16 months on rikers island. seven years mostly in sing sing. after release in 1998, i started working with several organizations working on what eventually became reentry. at that point it was guys getting out of jail. we were doing it out of the back of our cars. a guy came home and we had extra socks at the back of our car. we'd pick him up at the jail, take him home. eventually getting into ministry and different things, we found that you know, there's a lot of imbalance in terms of what's happening when people get out of prison. so what's happening is in new york state, for example, you get out of prison, you get $40, it belongs to you anyway. they give you $40, i don't know if they give you a metro card anymore. i got out 17 years ago so i don't know what the policy is now. and they basically send you home and give you these great things.
they don't gain and maintain employment, be home before 9:00 at night and all of this stuff. and so what happens is you have all of these folks who come home, and they feel alienated from society, and they don't feel like there's any place for them. they can't get jobs because they're afraid to go to a job interview, because when they go to a job interview, they're going to ask them that magic question that frightens everybody who's ever been incarcerated, have you ever been convicted of a crime. and there's a feeling across the board that there's no place for me, there's no hope for me, so what else can i do? and to their credit, myself and others have progressed past those points and been able to do things like what i'm doing through organizations like faith in new york who's working on band in a box, through organizations like new york theological seminary, through organizations like healing communities. we've been able to get people to understand that it's not -- i
always tell folks who get out of prison, it's not your net worth it's your network. and networking is the way to get past it. so what we've done in new york is working with faith in new york to band a box, to get fair hiring practices more people who were formerly incarcerated, what we've been doing is working with different reentry organizations to make sure people get the things they need in order to readjust themselves to society in a proper way. and also just being able to be there for people. as a formerly incarcerated person, one of the things i can do is talk to people and have those conversations with individuals to help them reintegrate and let them know it's possible. a lot of people don't see the possibilities, and that covers a lot of the work we've done so far. todd that's great. : thank you very much. and, judy, i think this is a good segway to you. we're discussing a lot about mass incarceration overcriminallization. what impact do you think removing barriers for folks with criminal records in employment across the
board would have on that conversation? judy you can't talk about : criminal justice reform without looking at what happens once people get out and once they have that record. because as a society we just continue to punish people over and over again. we often don't let them vote, so they can't even have a say in the democratic process through which laws are passed about criminal justice. we erect almost insurmountable barriers to getting employment and reemployment once somebody comes out of incarceration is the single most important factor in preventing recidivism, giving people that sort of opportunity. so we're so pleased to be working with the picot national network, many groups in this work that we call the fair chance hiring practices. we've talked about the ban the box movement, to make sure that the question about criminal records can't be asked on
initial job application. that it has to happen further along in the process. once somebody already understands that you are a qualified individual with something to offer that employer. and we find that when people get vested in an applicant and they ask the question later in the process, they're willing to listen to the explanation. they're willing to judge the person on the entirety of their merits much more so than they are if just that little box is checked. and then they go through the individualized assessment that's required by the eeoc guidelines on the use of arrest and conviction records. and they decide whether or not there's a business necessity to refuse to hire somebody. and it's just such an important tool in giving people that chance. so we're very excited that this moment is happening in criminal justice reform and that it is happening in a genuine -- not even bipartisan, if you will sort of an omnipartisan way because people from all walks of life have recognized that what we've done hasn't worked and the ways we continue to punish people long since they've paid
their debt to society just offends all notions of justice and decency and morality. >> todd thank you. director davis : i'm going to switch gears a little bit. we've been talking a lot about the tensions between local law enforcement and communities. can you talk a little bit about what the the president of justice is doing -- the department of justice is doing to try to respond to this and also from your perspective how we strike the proper balance as we've been talking about between public safety and removing crime and violence from our communities and also reforming law enforcement in such a way that we have fair and equitable criminal justice system. reverend davis: so first, good afternoon, everyone. i don't think you've departed too far from the topic of reentry, because that is a significant part of how we reform the situation is recognizing the impact of system on people across the board.
as i look at it, i spent 30 years in law enforcement before i became the director of the cops office, and i watched my evolution as a cop. in 1985, when i became a police in oakland and i remember for , those around in the '80s and '90, we started dealing with the crack epidemic. this is probably where many of our policies started with regards to the war on drugs and mass incarceration. and had you went up to me in 1985 and asked me about reindustry, i would have told you -- reentry, i would have told you i believe in it whole -- wholeheartedly. clearly, those views are completely wrong. fast forward i became chief in 2005 of a community in east palo alto. i had really the honor of meeting a formerly incarcerated person who educated me and really touched my soul to the point of saying people deserve second chances, redemption. more importantly, as we started working together, we started seeing the impact of reducing recidivism, the impact of police and community relations was strong. i think after 30 years if i could just offer this, we are
probably at one of the most defining moments in american policing history that i've seen since i've been in this arena. and probably in the last 40 or 50 years. we have the opportunity and, quite frankly, the obligation to redefine policing in a people are talking about a cultural shift. we have to start with what is the role of police in a democratic society. i'm going to borrow a phrase from dr. king on how peace is not just the absence of war, it's the presence of justice. public safety cannot just be the absence of crime, it must also include the presence of justice. so we have to change what we want the role to be for policing. so mass incarceration, statistical drops in crime cannot be the priority of public safety or law enforcement. so what the department of justice has for us to really work on this one is my office focuses specifically on community policing. we offer services for police departments to take a look at their operations, their assessments, to work with the community, to evaluate, to