Skeptic Check: Political Scientist

group of protesters holding signs for science

Is activism good or bad for science?

(repeat) Hundreds of thousands of scientists took to the streets during the March for Science.  The divisive political climate has spurred some scientists to deeper political engagement – publicly challenging lawmakers and even running for office themselves.   But the scientist-slash-activist model itself is contested, even by some of their colleagues. 

Find out how science and politics have been historically intertwined, what motivates scientists to get involved, and the possible benefits and harm of doing so. Is objectivity damaged when scientists advocate? 

Plus, how Michael Mann became a reluctant activist, whether his “street fighter” approach is effective in defending climate science, and the price he and his family paid for speaking out.

Also, how the organization 314 Action is helping a record number of scientists run for Congress.  But will the group support only Democratic contenders?


  • Robert Young – Geologist, Western Carolina University
  • Douglas Haynes – Historian of medicine and science, University of California, Irvine
  • Michael Mann – Professor, atmospheric science, Director, Earth System Science Center, Penn State University 
  • Shaugnessy Naughton – Founder and President, 314 Action
  • Alex Berezow – Senior fellow of biomedical science at the American Council on Science and Health


originally aired April 16, 2018