During a major election year, news headlines and political platforms often highlight taxes, jobs, and security issues. But what about science? Can issues like climate change, public health, or technology influence a voter’s decision? And how does media coverage vary in an election year and shape the conversation?

In a panel discussion held at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on April 29, 2024, an expert panel moderated by Kristan Uhlenbrock, Executive Director of The Institute for Science & Policy, explored how science can take a front or back seat in national, state, and local elections. 

Watch a video of this discussion on our YouTube channel. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Science in an Election Year

Hello, welcome everyone to Science in an Election Year, hosted by the Institute for Science and Policy at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. I am Kristan Uhlenbrock, the Executive Director of the Institute, and I am thrilled for this discussion that we put on April 29th, 2024. 

In the evening at the museum, we did have a small technical difficulty during the live stream in the recording. So I'm giving you a little bit of an introduction and then I'm going to let you jump right into the conversation. You didn't miss too much, but we did have a lively conversation at the beginning where we talked at a high level about some of those big issues in science as they relate to an election year. 

From there, we started to jump into talking about the lingering impacts of COVID-19, which is where we're going to kick off. I did want to briefly introduce the speakers on the panel, so you'll know who we're talking to. We had an amazing lineup, including Laura Helmuth, who is the Editor in Chief of Scientific American. 

She's had an amazing, illustrious career, including previously working for the Washington Post, National Geographic, Slate, Smithsonian, and Science. Also on our panel this evening, sitting next to Laura on the stage, is Matt Burgess. Matt is an assistant professor in environmental studies with an appointment in economics at CU-Boulder. He's also a fellow at CIRES and the Director of the Center for Social and Environmental Futures, and a faculty fellow of the Bruce D. Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization.

And our third panelist there on the far-right hand side of the screen is Alec Tyson. Tyson is the Associate Director of Research at the Pew Research Center, where he studies public views of science and technology, and the implications of science for society. He is a leading expert in both survey research and public opinion, which is quite timely and important for our topic, Science in an Election Year.

We had a couple of local partners help bring this together through collaboration and getting the word out, so I want to recognize and thank the Center for Social and Environmental Futures and the Science Writers Association of the Rocky Mountains. 

Alright, sit back and enjoy. If you have any questions or interests, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]. Enjoy.


KRISTAN UHELNBROCK (moderator): One more question. This will probably start shifting us into ideas and concepts more around trust, and engagement. But I wanted to bring up COVID-19. COVID exists as part of our lives now, but that was significant during the last election. We've seen how COVID has impacted trust in scientists over time. How are we still seeing the effects? Alec, I want you to start with this, from COVID-19 in this election year, and then we can talk about it more broadly as well. 

ALEC TYSON: I'd say it's not a voting issue, not in this election, but it's legacy is powerful and multifaceted. One thing it's done, I think it's reinforced existing views on the role and scope of government. We asked Americans, what was your biggest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic? What did you learn? 

Really interesting responses, but they were clearly segmenting themselves into two groups based on your political leanings. And for conservatives, the responses we heard is, “Don't turn to government so quickly. Don't close businesses, don't close schools, don't essentially trust government” and for folks who lean more to the left, you heard just the opposite: “We need to be earlier to embrace the science. We need to use tools at our disposal to get ahead of these pandemics.” And so that's still with us. This is a very fresh memory and it might not be a voting issue, but it's absolutely an issue for governance. What do you want from your government? What do you expect from your government? Where are you comfortable with your government? 

LAURA HELMUTH: Yeah, and I think, one of the issues in this election specifically, is we have a third-party candidate who's running on a conspiracy theory anti-vax platform, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., disgracing his family name. And, who knows what effects he'll have. His polling is not insignificant. 

Is he going to take votes from Biden? Is he going to take votes from Trump? It's a little bit early to say. But I don't think this candidate, regardless of his name, would be a viable candidate if there weren't enough people who believed in COVID conspiracy theories to sustain him. 

MATT BURGESS: I want to tell two stories about COVID conspiracy theories. The first one is the one that we probably all heard. That there are people who didn't trust COVID vaccines, and in the first big wave after the vaccine was available, had a 10 times higher death rate than those who took the vaccine. And those are disproportionately Republicans. And we're talking about the deaths of thousands of people.

Here's the other story though that I think scientific institutions need to reflect on: When the pandemic started, we said that masks don't work because we wanted to hoard the mask for healthcare workers. Then we said that they did work. Then we said that believing that COVID came from a lab was a racist conspiracy theory, and now about half our intelligence agencies think that's what happened. We said that protesting was bad when it was Republicans in Michigan, and then it was good when it was Black Lives Matter. 

And so in that context, there were probably a lot of people, average Americans who are less scientifically literate than we are on this stage, who said, “I know that they're lying to us about this, what should I believe them on?” And I think some of those people were sucked down into things that in some case got them killed. 

I think it's easy to look down on those people, but what I would say to all of us is, they didn't know better, and we did. And so, it's our job as scientific institutions to be trustworthy if we want to be trusted. And I think there are a lot of hard lessons. We should learn from the COVID pandemic. 

LAURA: Yeah, that's also a media story, right? If you're getting exclusively right-wing conspiratorial media telling you that he lied, he didn't lie. And pass along the conspiracy theories and tell people not to believe it and not to take the vaccine. That's a failure. 

That's massive misconduct, I think, on the right-wing media. And I think anybody who's getting local media, trustworthy media, science-informed, health-informed journalism, had a much better chance of living through the pandemic because of it. It all talks more about trust, but I think partly that they've been misled in a terrible way. 

KRISTAN: Should we talk about trust? We have a poll I'm going to use as a starting point for the conversation, which is where we're heading into, which is about the idea of communication, engagement, both from scientists and scientific institutions. 

So we have this question here: How engaged should a scientist be in politics? And this is politics, not policy. Zero is not engaged at all. And then five is highly engaged. You can use your interpretation of that, but we're seeing five as this outspoken activist role. 

And I'm getting a lot of responses. So just another few seconds here, get your votes in. I want us to have a conversation around it. This is a big, robust conversation we're going to have about engagement and who should be engaged and who are these ideas of institutions or individuals who are messengers that talk about these issues. I'm going to generally give you some estimates of where people are because it's really clear. 

Not zero, but a small percentage, we’re at 2 percent right now, of 85 responders think scientists should not be engaged at all in politics. Seven percent say rarely engaged. We're looking at about 20% that say occasionally. Forty-seven percent for frequently, and then 26% answered highly engaged. We see the majority of you all thinking that scientists should be engaged in politics. 

What are your thoughts on this as a panel? I think we're going to have some interesting conversations. Laura, do you want to start? 

LAURA: I agree. I think it's great. In my profession, at Scientific American, we publish a lot of scientists from all fields. All kinds of scholars, health professionals, graduate students, postdocs, people who are experts in some way, and we encourage them to write commentary, analysis, opinion pieces, and explain how their area of expertise eliminates a policy or politics issue. 

And, from my perspective, I think it's a duty of being a scholar to share what you know and share how what you know is relevant for the biggest questions of our time. So yeah, I would have voted four or five.  

MATT: I would vote that it depends on how you engage, right? I think a scientist’s job is to very clearly distinguish when are we wearing our scientist hat and invoking their expertise, and when are we wearing our citizen hat and invoking our opinion. And to the extent that we're presenting our science, to be as much as we can be honest brokers of what we found and its limitations, and to build institutions that have diversity of views and diversity of ideologies and perspectives and backgrounds so that we ask different questions. 

I've done a lot of research in climate and areas that are politicized. And (I'm) not always making either side happy. For example, I had some studies that showed that the hot scenario, the four-and-a-half-degree RCP 8.5 scenario was unrealistic, and some liberals hated that, and the Heartland Institute said I was a brave truth teller. 

And then I had a study that estimated that climate opinion might've swayed enough independents that it cost Trump the 2020 election, and then the Hartman Institute wrote that I was a shill to the Democratic Party and the left loved me. It was the same author both times. 

But what I found, for example, when I talked to rooms full of Republicans about climate change and sometimes, I'll get asked questions like, “is it the sun?” Or, “is it is it some kind of natural variation?” And what I'll say is, “look, I told you that we were wrong about the scenarios. So I would obviously tell you if we were wrong about this, but we're not, okay?” 

And so, I worry about institutions. There's a perception that many scientific institutions are captured by the left-most, about 8 percent of the country, according to some polls. I worry about that for two reasons. 

One is just a functional reason, that its a group that often can't win democratic primaries in places like New York and Minneapolis, and so if the popular support of science ends up approximating that I worry about what that means for our institutions. But also, if we really think that 8 percent of the population has all the right opinions, how little do we think of America? 

ALEC: It's a big topic. I'm pausing here because I don't quite know how to start. But it's a great poll question. We asked a very similar question. And what I can offer is the country is divided on this question. We ask a blunt measure: “do you think that scientists should be engaged in scientific policy questions?” 

A little bit different than the wording of "politics", but about half the country says yes. The other half says that scientists should focus on establishing sound scientific research. And more-or-less stay out of policy debates, even if they're about scientific issues. 

This question is a really important one, and I love public opinion. I do surveys, but public opinion is only one facet of this debate. And it's really a big question for the scientific community and scientists themselves. How do we do this? How do we do this well? When do we do this? Why do we do this? Who speaks for science and how do we engender broad trust among a wide swath of Americans?  

KRISTAN: There's an audience question that ties into this: Does this affect public perceptions of bias? If scientists at many institutions are associated as Democrats, and very much fewer as independents and Republicans, does that create a perception of bias?  

MATT: Yes. Do you want me to elaborate?  

ALEC: I want to hear Laura's thoughts on this, but I'll say what we saw in our polling is all of this ties to COVID, which is one of the most recent high-profile examples of science and scientists in action. And it was amazing how different folks' takeaways were. And one thing we did hear from conservatives was essentially a paraphrase of what we just heard here: a perception that ideology and personal politics were imbued or mixed in with the science. And that's a perception. You can debate the merits of that or when it happened or when it didn't. 

But we're absolutely hearing that in our surveys from conservatives about what they saw over the past four years and that legacy is very much still with us.  

LAURA: Yeah. And it's interesting, the bifurcation where conservatives are irritated about people using science and applying science to various policy and politics issues. But I think it can serve a purpose of energizing and informing, especially people who are in the middle, or are a little confused, or just want to know, should I be taking a vaccine or not? 

And if a scientist can speak in an informed way and share their knowledge and their opinion in their analysis, it can be very clarifying. And I think that's worth it, and certainly some will people say, “oh, you're just biased,” but I think the more that scientists do speak out and share why they know what they know, why they think what they think, that can destigmatize the idea that scientists shouldn’t be involved in the human realm. 

MATT: I think the tragedy of this is that we are biased in some ways we won't admit, but we're not biased in the important ways that if we would admit the ways we're biased, then we could tell people and they would believe us about the ways we're not biased. One of the stories that you often hear about, why conservatives, and moderates too, have nosed over their trust in universities since 2015 is that “oh, Fox News is mean to us.” 

And they've been mean to us for decades, and yet our trust only started cratering in 2015 when a whole bunch of different measures suggest we became more focused on issues not just of the left, but of the 8 percent most left.

We talk a lot in scientific institutions about diversity and inclusion. Here are three statistics. One is that 3 percent of professors' political donations went to Republicans in 2020. One is about 40 percent of right-leaning academics report being disciplined or threatened with discipline for their beliefs, and 70 percent report a hostile climate for beliefs. I have no idea why they don't trust us, it's a big mystery, it must just be “that Tucker's mean”, right? 

I think the reason we're not trusted is so obvious. And the tragedy is the vast majority of our science isn't politicized, and isn't biased, and is really good. And if we just had a little dose of humility about the areas where we are biased and where we are discriminatory. There was a survey of social science and psychologists faculty that found that more than half of them would explicitly state they were willing to discriminate against conservatives in hiring. 

If we just address these things, I think we'd have a lot more trust in areas where we really deserve to be trusted like COVID vaccines when it's a life and death issue.  

KRISTAN: Let me pick up a little bit on some things you both were saying. You brought up the word humility, which I love. And you were talking about this idea of clarity and what do we know, what don't we know? 

The idea of communicating uncertainty, the idea of being transparent, of getting this greater nuance when we're talking about these science issues -- how does that either build up trust, or erode it at times? And I would love if you guys had any real-world examples to illustrate either side of that.  

LAURA: That's something you think about a lot in journalism, especially during the pandemic, when things were changing. At first, people didn't know it was spread through the air. It was spreading on cruise ships, and so the best disease we understood that spread to cruise ships was norovirus, which does [spread through the air]. We know, don't touch your face if you're experiencing norovirus. 

So we kept learning new things, and with masks it took a while to understand how important masking was. It took a while to understand that vaccines save your life because they don't prevent you from passing it on. It took a while to understand that you could be contagious and not have any symptoms. 

So one of the things that I think Hopkins science journals got really good at is saying is here's what we know and here's what we don't know. And we actually have a kind of headline formula right now that's, “Is COVID airborne? Here's what we know so far.” 

And the promise of that headline is we're telling you the latest information. There's some things we don't know yet, and we will update you. We'll tell you what we don't know, and, count on us to come back when we learn more. And so that's a headline that we use a lot. “Monkeypox. How does monkeypox spread?" We did what we know so far. It works really well for public health, but it works for a lot of other things, too. 

MATT: Yeah, one of the challenges with an emergency like COVID is that people panic, and it can become hard to find these things out. For example, what are the tradeoffs for education and the economy with long-term lockdowns? And how do those balance with the risk of opening things up, for death? 

As far as I understand, our understanding of that changed a lot throughout the pandemic. And we were very quick to shut down people who had concerns, particularly working-class people who had concerns about lockdowns. And they gave Ron DeSantis the majority of the Hispanic vote in the last election. 

Donald Trump, who, often has rhetoric that's very racially polarizing. Has tripled his support among African-American men since 2020, and doubled his support with African Americans overall. And I suspect some of this has to do with the working-class malaise and anger about some of the stuff that went on in COVID and minimizing some of the concerns that they had when the economic effects and the educational effects were really devastating for a lot of people. And they mostly weren't for the people with laptops writing about it.  

ALEC: What this makes me think of, and maybe to take a step back, we're talking about this concept of trust. Where do we stand with trust in science or trust in scientists? That's one of the things that we study at Pew Research Center, and it's a two-part story, so you're going to have to bear with me here. 

On the one hand, the majority of Americans say they have a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in scientists to act in the public's best interest. Now, that is down over the past two, three, four years compared to a pre-pandemic measure, so we've seen a decline in recent years. But in relative terms, science and scientists are still in a great position. 

We live in a moment where there's low trust in government, there's low trust in journalists, there's low trust in even police officers or public school principals. The position of science and scientists would really be the envy of so many others. So that's the context for which I think this communication conversation is so important because it's far easier to lose reputation than regain it, and it's really an inflection point or a pivotal moment for the impression or trust that Americans extend to science and scientists. 

MATT: And we deserve it, despite what I've been saying for the last 20 minutes. I think that there are some areas where we need to reflect and do better, but I know lots of scientists. They do really good work, and deserve, absolutely deserve your trust. 

LAURA: A lot of them do, yeah, but not all of them. There's, in any profession, in journalism, in science, in sports, in anything, there are a bunch of goofballs.  

KRISTAN: Goofballs. Bad actors.  

There's a good audience question here about how can we encourage elected officials to incorporate more science into some of these political discussions and this debate? 

I'm gonna say, could or should we, right? There’s two parts to it. Could they be talking about more science issues, and should they? What role do people have to try to encourage that if they want that?  

LAURA: I'd say yes. And yes, absolutely could and should. 

And I think events like this are really useful for bringing us together to think about the role of science and why it is important. I think it's super important. And I think the more that politicians are asked about science subjects, the more they'll have to pay attention. 

And I think the media plays a big role here. Bringing science to the election, it's an opportunity where people are paying attention. And so you can use that attention to inform people about the issues. We'd like to say “every issue is a science issue at some level.” And there's a lot of work to improve the coverage, especially this year, to improve the journalism of covering the election and try to get away from just the horse race. Try to get away from just the both sides and everything and be a little bit more sophisticated about misinformation, about what we know to be true, what we know to be not true, and to be really straight with readers, and with our audiences as journalists about what's actually real and what's not in a climate of increasing unreality and increasing misinformation. 

KRISTAN: Let me follow up with Laura and then you guys can chime into this question, but you just alluded to that you think there is intentionality here in the media to do less of this horse race coverage. Why do you think that is and where can I see that if that's actually happening? 

It could be different for Scientific American and others, but I'd be curious if you're thinking about this wholesale as a media landscape. Is the media really trying to move away from that?  

LAURA: Not all. There's certainly the people who came up through political journalism and really love a good horse race. They're not going to go away from that trope. It works for them. It's fine.  

But I think you can see competing types of stories. And there's an organization that I'm on the advisory board of called Scilime. We do a lot of work training, especially with local journalists, on how to cover local science issues and natural science issues as well. 

And you don't have to be an expert in science to be a really good reporter about a subject that has science to it. We do a bunch of trainings in the greater Denver area to help local journalists incorporate science into their coverage, and especially their political coverage. 

So there's a lot of efforts like that where journalism is looking at itself and saying, “okay, how can, in this climate of competing with artificial intelligence and trying to make a business model that works, how can we do a better job?” 

MATT: I'm not going to tell a journalist how to journalism and I'm not going to tell a pollster how to poll. So focusing on academics, on scholars, one thing I would say is err on the side of accepting invitations. If people want to talk to you, go talk to them. Even if it's somebody who doesn't share your views on something or something about them makes you uncomfortable. 

One of my favorite examples of this is Holden Thorpe, who's the Editor-in-Chief of Science. I'm part of a group of academics that are concerned about partisanship called Heterodox Academy. We had our annual conference in 2022 here in Denver. And Heterodox Academy members had been quite critical of Dr. Thorpe for what some saw as a very partisan stance on science, and he showed up to our conference to talk about it. He had been quite critical of us. And he gets up on the panel and the moderator asks him, “Dr. Thorpe, why did you come, why did you decide to come to speak with us,” and he said, “because you invited me.” 

And I think we need more of that. I thought Dr. Thorpe did a great job in Congress recently, which was another example of an invitation from his critics.  

ALEC: I can underscore some of the themes you've heard in the past few minutes. We were talking about science communication, maybe in the context of the scientific community, but when and if public officials or elected officials talk science, communication, humility, transparency, connecting it to real issues in folks lives when they feel like they've been given power, or been given efficacy -- that's how science is going to be a successful issue, both for citizens and also to be heard more in government. So it's about, I don't want to say best practices, that almost sounds too simplistic, but it's about doing it well, not just doing it, right? 

KRISTAN: In what ways can or should we be making science issues more bipartisan or even nonpartisan?  

ALEC: I'm going to return to a theme about how much support there is for scientific achievement in this country. 

A non-controversial position is that government investments in basic scientific research are worthwhile. About 80 percent of the country thinks that. The notion that the United States should be a leader in scientific achievement, large majorities of all walks of political persuasion feel that way, and I touched previously on the dynamic of trust, which in relative terms is still quite high. So I’ll hand it off by saying there is a strong base to build on here and a real public appetite for science and scientific leadership in this country.  

MATT: That's absolutely right. in the summer of 2020 a student of mine and I were fairly despondent about polarization and decided to look at what we call the two-thirds majority platform. If you had to make a presidential platform that was only positions that had two thirds and more support in major national polls, you can do a lot. There's a lot more agreement than disagreement. Axios did a report recently that did a similar thing around values and there's a ton of shared values across the spectrum.  

Science is, like Alec said, a good example. I believe it's the case that climate science funding went up every year under the Trump administration because of Congress, including some Republicans like our Senator Cory Gardner who understood how important science is to our economy. And similarly, I believe it also went up under the Bush administration. The fact that we're a leader in innovation is a core part of this country's identity and really is part of what makes us great. 

LAURA: Yes, and I think a big part of it is who science is for. If you feel included in science, understand it, it feels like something that's interesting and inviting, then I think that can break a lot of barriers. That's one of the reasons why it makes sense for scientists to talk about their knowledge, talk about their opinion, talk about their experience, and humanize it. That can defang some of the extreme right-wing attempts to demonize anybody who's intellectual. There's a lot of anti-intellectual bias that I think is used against science and what can be used to make it less representative, “Those scientists, they're not us.” So whether it’s journalists or scientists speaking out, this is important, because it helps (when) this is something I can understand. We feel empowered to be part of a non-partisan or bipartisan group to support science-informed policies for projects. 

KRISTAN: Someone from the audience asked: in the representative democracy, should we be voting on technical issues where there are expert agencies that have the knowledge to make these decisions? So distinguishing between perhaps the politicians and the agencies and others who are informed to make decisions. 

ALEC: It's a moment where there are murmurs about different types of elective democracy or how our system could work, but goodness I don't know if there's broad public support or what that would look like. I'm curious to hear your other thoughts.  

MATT: I do feel that expertise is critically important, take doctors for example. You might get advice from your doctor that you think is bad advice, but you don't want to ever live in a world where you don't have to go to med school to be a doctor, and anyone off the street who wants to can cut you up, right? So, we have to really deeply respect expertise.  

Churchill said democracy is the worst system besides all the other ones. And I think when you look at it through that lens, I think the idea of a benevolent technocrat falls apart in the same way the benevolent dictator falls apart. We are all humans. You give any human concentrated power and they'll do sometimes nasty things or tyrannical things, even if they're scientifically trained. Look at eugenics, for example. So yes, you should trust our profession, but please don't make us dictators. 

LAURA: Yeah, but I think you can still trust the EPA scientists to understand environmental impact better than most voters. And I think that's probably one of the issues that comes up in the Trump administration is systematically firing, shrinking, or eliminating federal science jobs. And these are non-partisan jobs. These are career scientists, career government employees. They have expertise, they study the issues, they give their best knowledge. And sometimes that causes a fight in ideological political decisions. But the politicization or the legalization by the Trump administration of federal agency expertise is really dangerous, like the one billion dollars out of the National Cancer Institute, or anything like that. I think it really is important to have a professional cadre of people who understand the statistics and can do the math and can understand the research and how it applies and how it should be applied to all kinds of political decisions. 

Yeah, I think there definitely is a role for federal agencies. 

KRISTAN: So if you (the audience) want to share your one word about how you're feeling and/or give me your bright spot.  

I would like the panel to talk about what gives you some hope or optimism moving forward this year. I'm already seeing some really strong words come out here (from the audience) that don't feel really hopeful in our word cloud. 

ALEC: People feel strongly about things they care about, right? And if I were to use one word, it would be “engagement or engaged”. We have an electorate, we have a citizenry, and voter turnout was higher the last election than in any time in recent memory. 

People feel very strongly about issues they care about right now. It's a healthy thing to deliberate. It takes some expressions that can be uncomfortable at times, but my optimistic take on engagement is, we're engaged,  

MATT: I already told you my optimists’ take on polarization, which is that the extremes are so good at getting in their own way that eventually that will happen. And I think it's already happening. But let's just let's just zoom out. By almost every measure, this is one of the safest, most prosperous, most rights places to be in the history of the world. 

If you look at America's biggest flaws, they exist, but they're found everywhere in world history, and they're almost always worse than they are here now. And if you look at America's greatest strengths, they're found almost nowhere in history. So if we want to be good scientists, good journalists, whatever, that's what we should focus on. That's what makes us unique, and we should build on that to solve the problems which are manageable.  

LAURA: Of course that experience is very different for different people. I think I'm perceiving or hoping to perceive a sense of solidarity and determination that we have to show up and we have to make a difference. I think more people are feeling like voting really matters more than maybe it used to – there's never been an unimportant election – but it does seem like more people recognize that. We’ve seen that in the off-term elections, or whenever there’s a special election, voter turnout has been extraordinarily high. And I think that's what will happen this year too.  

KRISTAN: And just the turnout here tonight to talk about this issue is impressive. It alludes to the fact that people care and are really interested in this topic this year.  

I'm going to call out someone who's sitting right here in the front row, a dear friend of ours, Laura Frank, who works for CO-Lab, which is an amazing organization here in Colorado, really trying to support local journalism, local media, trying to do a lot of what Laura [Helmuth] mentioned. Because the media does have a significant role in how we consume media, so keep up the good work Laura. I know it's hard and tiring but I also look around and I see many colleagues and people I know who work across the business sector, who work at national labs, at, work at universities and other nonprofits who are here in the room showing up and engaging. 

I encourage you to go find someone you don't know tonight and talk to them and maybe ask some questions and learn something new. Because I've really learned a few things from these folks sitting here to my left and have greatly enjoyed their conversation tonight. I want to call out that whoever wrote the word “stressy” as their word in this word cloud that's stress with a Y. I love it. It's a new word for me, but I really like it.  

Thank you all so much for being here tonight and for joining us. And thank you to our virtual online audience who joined us and hopefully they were engaged in the Q&A as well. 

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The Institute for Science & Policy is committed to publishing diverse perspectives in order to advance civil discourse and productive dialogue. Views expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, or its affiliates.