Of the assembled luminaries of the science/science policy world, guess who dropped the f-bomb?

And guess who was quoting RFK to do that, so it’s totally cool?

Anyway, shorter panel: You don’t have to be a scientist to defend science, and you do need to get involved. Schools matter, and politicians need to hear from you from the White House to the school house.

Many thanks to the packed room for a great session, with great questions and provocative interactions between the panel and the audience. I saw Kevin Drum, Amanda Marcotte, and Congressman Brad Miller in the audience, to name just a few.

Questions ranged from details of policy (must we stabilize carbon dioxide levels at 350 or can we level off at 450?), to broad matters of how to reduce support for science denial across the board.

The discussion focused on education, not surprisingly, but I and other panelists emphasized that the problems extend outside the classroom, and have to be dealt with much more broadly.

Toward the end, I told a story that I recently heard from Cheryl Shepherd-Adams, a teacher I met through Kansas Citizens for Science and through this blog. A couple years back, she wrote to ask if my then-Scibling Chris Mooney might be willing to visit her in Hays, Kansas (pop.: 20,000). He had been touring in support of The Republican War on Science, and had just published Storm World. He wound up kicking off the Storm World tour in Hays, attracting 150+ people to hear about climate change, its effects on hurricanes, and the way science grappled with important policy and evolving knowledge.

Since then, the Science Cafe in Hays has continued to meet every few weeks, attracting ~50 people to chat about science. It’s a remarkable story, demonstrating that even in the middle of Kansas, there’s a desire to learn about science and have a conversation about it. If we could expand those and widen their impact, it would take pressure off of teachers, off of scientists, and off of worried parents.