Acclaimed Author, Filmmaker, and Science Advocate Shawn Otto to Speak at Carleton College

Shawn Otto

Shawn Otto, an acclaimed author, filmmaker and noted science advocate, whose book “Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America” (Rodale Books, 2011) is the winner of the 2012 Minnesota Book Award for general nonfiction, will appear at the Carleton College Weitz Center for Creativity Cinema on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. The event is part of a state-wide tour featuring Minnesota Book Award winners and is co-sponsored by Carleton’s Gould Library, St. Olaf College’s Rolvaag Library, and the Northfield Public Library. Otto will presentation will discuss his award-winning book, which argues that American society is rejecting science at the very time we most need it. Copies of “Fool Me Twice” will be available for purchase at the event. Otto’s presentation is free and open to the public.


“Fool Me Twice,” described as “gripping” by Kirkus Reviews, argues that the major unsolved problems of our time—including climate change, environmental protection and Earth’s rising population—require science-based solutions. The book claims that America’s government, politics, and media have rejected science. According to Otto, antiscientific views—including climate change denial, creationism and vaccination refusal—have been unacceptably embraced as mainstream, and the strength of these viewpoints leads to misinformation.


Otto’s book argues that authority figures have challenged science throughout history but that modern society is so dependent upon technology that the U.S. will not be able to tackle the crises of the 21st century by spurning science. Yet, in his view, that is exactly what many people in our public life have done. Otto calls on scientists to engage the public more actively and calls on the public in turn to support a return of science to our national discourse.


Otto, a Minnesota native and Macalester College alumnus, is the CEO and cofounder of, which bills itself as the “largest political initiative in the history of science.” In 2008 and again in 2012 Otto has encouraged presidential candidates to discuss major science-related problems in an online debate. More generally promotes civic engagement by scientists and educational events on science policy topics. He has appeared on NPR, PBS, CBS, FOX, ABC, MSNBC, the New York Times,, SCIENCE, Huffington Post, Issues in Science and Technology, Scientific American, New Scientist, Rolling Stone and many others, writing and talking about America’s problem with science and how it threatens democracy.


Otto is also a filmmaker, best known for writing and coproducing “House of Sand and Fog,” a 2003 drama film starring Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley, which was nominated for three Academy Awards. Otto and his wife, Rebecca, currently the Minnesota State Auditor, live in a home powered by geothermal, solar, and wind energy that the Ottos designed and built themselves near Marine on St. Croix. For more information on Otto, visit online at


For more information, including disability accommodations, contact Carol Eyler at (507) 222-4268 or email Copies of “Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America” are currently available for purchase at the Carleton Bookstore and can also be purchased at the event. The Weitz Center for Creativity is located at 320 North Third Street in Northfield; enter at Third and College Streets.