S03|E01: Fantastic Mr. Phillips, Science & Politics, & Ask Sam

In this week's episode we follow the trail of a very secretive pioneer in eco-activism, look into the long history of the relationship between science and politics including the bizarre Doomsday clock, and Sam answers some listener's questions about spring tails, wind, and Mount Mitchell.

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Parts 1 & 2

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Fantastic Mr. Phillips

In the late sixties, a soap factory in suburban Illinois discovered one of its outflow pipes had been intentionally clogged by an industrial saboteur. Does environmental damage ever demand radical action? And when does environmental protest cross the line and become eco-terrorism?


Interlude

Martha Soukup - flickr Creative Commons

Martha Soukup - flickr Creative Commons

Science & Politics

Activists aren’t the only group that has to wrestle with the question of how far they can push before society starts to think less of them, scientists are trying to figure out how far their credibility can stretch, too. While the scientific community has consistently ranked as one of the most trusted institutions in the country—right up there with doctors and the military—survey after survey has found that among Republicans, faith in science is on the decline. This is particularly true when it comes to certain topics, like the climate.

This is not to lay the problem solely at the feet of the Right. While those same surveys find that liberals profess to believe in science, they’ve got their own subjects where they are skeptical of scientific conclusions: nuclear power and genetically modified crops, to name a few.

In response, later this month scientists, the science adjacent and the scientifically sympathetic will march on Washington and at sister protests across the US. This of course has prompted a whole new round of anxiety in the scientific community. A coastal scientist penned a New York Times op-ed declaring the march would only increase the political polarization of science, which spawned countless blog posts in response.

But can we really say that science has never been partisan? We spoke with Rob Meyer, a writer for The Atlantic about how, going all the way back to the 1940s, scientists have put out the nation’s longest running political advocacy gimmick: the Doomsday Clock.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists manages the clock, the symbolic warning system that indicates how close we are to nuclear or existential catastrophe. That clock is now the closest it's ever been to "midnight" or the end of the world as we know it.


Part 3

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Ask Sam: Snow Fleas, Wind, & Mt. Mitchell

What are all those tiny little black bugs that show up in the snow, is there more wind than there used to be, and what's the deal with Mount Mitchell saying it's the highest peak east of the Mississippi?

If you’ve got a question for our Ask Sam hotline, give us a call! We’re always looking for rabbit holes to dive down into. Leave us a voicemail at: 1-844-GO-OTTER (844-466-8837). Don’t forget to leave a number so we can call you back.


Outside/In was produced this week by:

Sam Evans-Brown, Maureen McMurray, Taylor Quimby, Molly Donahue, Jimmy Gutierrez, and Logan Shannon.

Our theme music is by Breakmaster Cylinder

If you’ve got a question for our Ask Sam hotline, give us a call! We’re always looking for rabbit holes to dive down into. Leave us a voicemail at: 1-844-GO-OTTER (844-466-8837). Don’t forget to leave a number so we can call you back.

This week’s episode includes tracks from Jason Leonard, Blue Dot Sessions, Podington Bear, El Palteado, and Jahzzar. Check out the Free Music Archive for more tracks from these artists.