Sept. 18, 2018

#35: Can These Scientists Really Save Congress?

#35: Can These Scientists Really Save Congress?
Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Spotify podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge
RSS Feed podcast player badge

Our guest is Shaughnessy Naughton. She is the President & Founder of 314 Action, an organization founded by members of the STEM community; grassroots supporters and political activists who believe in the power of SCIENCE!

Want to send us feedback? Tweet us, email us, or leave us a voice message!


Quinn: Welcome to Important, Not Important. My name is Teddy Ballgame.

Brian: Teddy Ballgame?

Quinn: Well, that was Ted Williams' nickname.

Brian: Oh, right. 

Quinn: And he's named after Ted Williams, the greatest hitter of all time, last name is-

Brian: Your name is Quinn Emmett.

Quinn: Well-

Brian: And I am Brian Colbert Kennedy, and Teddy Ballgame is also here. 

Quinn: He's on the floor. He's like, "Quick question, when am I going for a walk?"

Brian: So cute.

Quinn: This is episode 35, I believe.

Brian: Yeah.

Quinn: 35. Here's a question, Brian, can Scientists save Congress? Can they do it? 

Brian: I feel like maybe they can.

Quinn: Maybe. Maybe not even just Scientists. Maybe other people who use rational decision making, and empirical data to make their decisions.

Brian: Yeah.

Quinn: About everything.

Brian: And people, Representatives who are more representative of the makeup of this country. In case you had interest.

Quinn: And our educated workforce, right?

Brian: And not just a bunch of old, white people.

Quinn: Right. And not just lawyers and fake Doctors.

Brian: Right. 

Quinn: Our guest today, pretty awesome, Shaughnessy Naughton. She is the President/Founder of 314 Action. Either of those. Their mission, they're founded by members of the STEM community. Grassroots supporters and political activists who believe in ... what's that word?

Brian: It's funny, I hate that sentence. Believe in science.

Quinn: Science. Believe in science.

Brian: It's not something you can believe in, or not believe in. it's just facts.

Quinn: Yep. What's the ... there's the great article that Doctor Marvel wrote on her new blog?

Brian: Oh yeah.

Quinn: That just said, "Why I don't argue,"-

Brian: "Why I don't argue,"-

Quinn: "Facts or science,"?

Brian: Yeah.

Quinn: Yeah, because it's-

Brian: Not arguable.

Quinn: It's science. We can argue about other things. Not that.

Brian: All kinds of stuff.

Quinn: Let's start with that. Anyways, 314, they are committed to electing more STEM candidates to office of every level, advocating for evidence-based policy solution issues like climate change, and fighting the Trump administrations attacks on science.

Brian: Repeated, relentless attacks.

Quinn: Yep, so we have two dogs on the podcast today, which always makes for a good one. Two dogs, and no cats. Everybody wins.

Brian: No. That's not very nice to say. 

Quinn: Yep. So, we have Teddy and-

Brian: I love you, Stevie. She's at home.

Quinn: Clementinee? Clementinee?

Brian: Clementinee, yeah.

Quinn: I like it. Yeah. Why not throw an E on the end?

Brian: Sure.

Quinn: She had one little growl. Got fired up at one point. Teddy, not much.

Brian: Quiet as a-

Quinn: By the way, again, to follow up, you know the earthquake we had last night? Little 4.4?

Brian: No.

Quinn: Sound asleep on the couch.

Brian: I felt nothing.

Quinn: So you're basically Teddy. Just dead inside?

Brian: Just call me Teddy Ballgame.

Quinn: Dogs can hear for miles away. Either he can't, or he's over it. He's like, "Call me when it's over seven."

Brian: Yeah, it was too small for him.

Quinn: Right, yeah. Just not interested. He's not like, "Get the children. Get under your desk."

Brian: Right.

Quinn: No, he's just like, "I'm out."

Brian: Well see? Everything was fine.

Quinn: "Put Stranger Things back on." You know, Brian, the intent of this podcast, our newsletter is the weekly recap of the most important news you missed.

Brian: Right.

Quinn: Right? The newsletter for people who give a shit about the future, right?

Brian: Right.

Quinn: The things you should be seeing under all the day-to-day shit, so it's more timely. The goal with this was to be more evergreen. Podcast episodes you could listen to at any point. Start in any order, they're not serialized. It's not Serial. It's not the news. Plenty of people do a great job with that. Things you can tune into, 'cause these are existential-ish topics that are gonna come up over and over again. But we are barreling towards November 6th.

Brian: We're getting real close.

Quinn: So, these are a little more timely. We're gonna keep going with our series of chats with candidates across the country who are endorsed by 314.

Brian: Yep.

Quinn: Pretty awesome. Trying to get people aware of them on every level. Support them. Knock on doors, phone, bank, donate to get these people into office, and see what happens. So, I think they'll be evergreen, in maybe a time capsule way. Either something, look at, "Hey, these were the people before they were in office, and had a big impact."

Brian: Yeah.

Quinn: Or in an actual time capsule way of, "These are the last time we heard from any of these people, before it all ended."

Brian: Oh my god. 

Quinn: Anyways-

Brian: Before the first coming [inaudible 00:04:13].

Quinn: On that note, so if we wanna stay timely for a second, 538. I got an email of the election update. Democrats still have a five in seven chance of taking control of the Chamber. Average gain is 33 seats. We'll take it.

Brian: Boom.

Quinn: Needs to be better. Obviously, not all polling is correct everywhere. Everybody, including 538, blew in 2016. We just had that incredible Democratic nominee for Governor in Florida.

Brian: Yeah, Gillum.

Quinn: Gillum. Guy's fucking awesome. Ran on a straight up progressive platform. Was polling in 4th the day before the election.

Brian: The day before.

Quinn: 4th. So that, is just our disclaimer that not everything is gonna all come out.

Brian: I love that, too, because he ... they spent almost no money.

Quinn: Right. It's crazy.

Brian: I mean, what an amazing and ... I don't know, it just makes you go, "Okay, well great, maybe I don't have to have a billion dollars, and I can still,"-

Quinn: Right. I hope so. I hope so. As much as I hate money in politics, it's like, hopefully he does get some support now, 'cause now these idiots are gonna throw a bunch of money into him. And his candidate immediately went straight racist. Immediately. Everyone's like, "How long is it," ... nope. Right away. 

Brian: Before he could even get the question in.

Quinn: Yep.

Brian: Jesus.

Quinn: Called him articulate ... was something about monkey, and some people were like, "But that does not necessarily," ... yes, it is.

Brian: Sure is.

Quinn: So anyways, five in seven chance. People donate, knock on doors, phone, bank, it's 2018, you can do it from your computer for anybody in the country.

Brian: So easy.

Quinn: And vote. Vote, vote, vote, vote, vote. That's my update there. Hey Brian.

Brian: Yeah.

Quinn: We talk to a lot of folks who I'm pretty proud of. We don't agree on everything. Right?

Brian: Right.

Quinn: Except for the most important things. The means justify the end. We had a chat with an awesome dude, José Aguto, about what his group does to support climate action. Clean energy action. José is awesome. We titled the podcast, something along the lines of, "The Pope has decided to fix climate change with his own bare hands."

Brian: Yes.

Quinn: His actions there have been pretty awesome. Pope in the news a little bit this week, for not so great stuff. Possibly.

Brian: Possibly. He's only been accused so far, right?

Quinn: Yep. Catholic church has been a ... what is the right word for it? Well, watch Spotlight. It's not great. And it's been getting worse again, in Pennsylvania and other places. And one of the Arch Bishops claimed that the Pope has known about this stuff for a long time. And in true Joe Paterno style, covered it up while maintaining his grandfatherly image. So I just wanted to say clearly, if that is true in any way, we obviously don't condone it.

Brian: Right.

Quinn: In any fashion. We got a lot of ... the episode hit just as all this news hit this week, so online-

Brian: Yeah, the timing is interesting.

Quinn: People are like, "Hey cool, he solved climate change, but quite a lot of little boys got diddled." And that's not okay. And that is 100% fucking true. So, appreciate his climate change efforts. Hopefully, these accusations are not true. If they are, fuck 'em. Let it burn.

Brian: Yeah, I really hope they're not.

Quinn: Let that mother fucker burn. People are fired up about this guy. But now, in a lot of different ways, so anyways, just wanted to put that out there, 'cause we got some flack for the timing of it, which we clearly couldn't fucking control. It hit at the same moment, but it is what it is.

Brian: Yeah, I hope that's not true, 'cause it would be great to ... it'd be great if he could go down in our memories as a really great Pope for a change.

Quinn: It'd be great if one person from this specific couple of years didn't go down in fuckin' flames. But again, if it is true, then let the mother fucker burn.

Brian: Yep. 

Quinn: So anyways, that's where we are, man. Great chat today. We're gonna keep these going. This series with 314, and Shaughnessy is the woman who got it all started.

Brian: Started it all.

Quinn: And it's pretty fucking rad. So let's go chat.

Quinn: Our guest today is Shaughnessy Naughton. And together, we're gonna ask, can Scientists actually save Congress? Shaughnessy, welcome.

Shaughnessy: Hi. Great to be here. 

Brian: Very great to have you. Why don't you let us know who you are and what you do?

Shaughnessy: Sure. I am the Founder and President of 314 Action, an organization that's dedicated to getting Scientists to go beyond just advocacy, and get involved in electoral politics, whether it's run for office themselves, or support fellow Scientists and STEM professionals that are stepping up to run for office. 

Quinn: Awesome. And you wanna just give us a little background on how all that got started?

Shaughnessy: Sure. My background is, I'm a Chemist by training. I worked in breast cancer research, and drug discovery. And then, actually stepped out and ran a business for over a decade. And in 2013, 2014 I was increasingly concerned and frustrated with Congress. 

Quinn: Why? That's so weird.

Brian: I just don't get it.

Shaughnessy: Well, as much as I love and believe in the promise and deliveries of science, what became obvious was that science can't solve every problem. When we have a Congress that is in blatant denial of the very real effects of climate change, that's voted 50 times to take away health care, rather than try to fix the problem. What I realized was that sometimes, solutions need a political or policy answer. And so, I decided to step up and run for Congress.

Quinn: Nice.

Brian: Thank you.

Shaughnessy: Yeah, well, I did not know what I was getting into. Which probably is what allowed me to do it. But what I learned was, that there's a real lack of people with scientific backgrounds in elected office, and I think we see the effects of that, reflected in both the policy and the process.

Brian: Say that again.

Quinn: It feels like a complete understatement.

Brian: Right, right.

Quinn: But yeah, I mean we're definitely gonna dig into that for sure. Good news, sounds like because of folks like you, and organizations like you, there is quite a wave of those similar minded folks who have essentially said, "Well, fuck it. I'll run myself." So hopefully, that works out. And we'll dig into that more. So how did that go for you?

Shaughnessy: Well, I actually ended up running twice, being the stubborn, Irish person I am. And so, I did not make it through the Democratic primary, but I learned a lot about the process, and how hard it is to break into politics when you don't come from a traditional political background. I mean, right now, there are more talk radio show hosts, although valuable, but there are more talk radio show hosts in Congress than there are Chemists and Physicists. And so, I founded this organization to help give Scientists that peek behind the curtain as to what is actually involved, and to continue to unite and engage the scientific community to support these candidates.

Brian: God, that's so incredible, and important. Now, more than ever.

Shaughnessy: Yeah, I mean, the attacks on science didn't start with the Trump administration, but they've taken what felt like a war on science, and turned it into an all out war on facts. And that, should have everyone concerned.

Quinn: Yeah, a little worried.

Brian: It's not great. All right, so let's get this going. We love asking questions here, and specifically questions that are going to elicit some answers that are action-oriented answers. So, we're gonna set up a little context for the conversation today, ask a bunch of questions so we start, try to fix the problems that are happening, because the time is now. And that's it. And then, we're gonna say, "Goodbye," after that.

Quinn: Yep. Pretty neat and candid.

Brian: Does that sound good?

Quinn: And then, all the problems are fixed.

Brian: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Quinn: So, we're good.

Brian: Are you sure that's how this works?

Quinn: Yep, yep. That's what we're going for. So, Shaughnessy, we do like to start with one more question about you. And we do feel like it sets a tone in a number of ways. Instead of saying, "Tell us your life story," we like to ask, Shaughnessy, why are you vital to the survival of the species.

Shaughnessy: Well, God help us, if I am. But I-

Quinn: You are. You are, you are.

Shaughnessy: We all have a responsibility to step up and get involved. And I think one of the good things to come out of the Trump election is that it has made a lot of people realize that they have a part to play in our Democracy. And it's not okay to just leave it for other people to take care of, because it's not taking care of itself.

Brian: Yeah, very true.

Quinn: Yeah, that sounds about right to me. I'm into it, man. So, let's ... we're gonna establish a little context for today's question, because we know our listeners are sitting, stuck on the New York subway, which doesn't work anymore. Or they're driving, or they're walking the dog or something, and they might not have time to educate themselves on this topic as much as we do. So we try to get everybody on the same page. And we can really dig into it, when everyone is working from the same draft.

Quinn: So, I'll go over some things. Brian will ask some questions. Shaughnessy, you can either correct us, or you can just run away. We'll see what happens. Hopefully, we hold onto you.

Brian: Yeah, hopefully, you stay with us.

Quinn: So, here's some facts.

Brian: Real, actual facts?

Quinn: Actual facts.

Brian: Oh, not fake facts. Okay, good.

Quinn: Yep. So, there are 100 Senators in the U.S. Congress. There are 435 members of the House of Representatives. There are currently two Senators with PhDs, out of 100.

Brian: Whoa.

Quinn: One in Human Services, and one in History.

Brian: So, that's-

Quinn: So that's two of 100-

Brian: Not in science.

Quinn: Neither based in science.

Brian: I mean that needs to change.

Quinn: Yeah, fun story.

Brian: Yesterday.

Quinn: Last time, there was a PhD in science in the Senate, okay? 1983. Brian, were you alive?

Brian: Yeah, I was born that year.

Quinn: Great. So great. That's dating us. Republican, Harrison Schmidt, in Geology. He served one term.

Brian: Wow.

Quinn: Do you why else he was special, Brian?

Brian: No, but I want you to tell me.

Quinn: He landed on the fucking moon. Yeah, he supposedly-

Brian: Oh, really?

Quinn: Too the blue marble photo of Earth.

Brian: Oh.

Quinn: He was also the second to last person to walk on the moon. But that's just because we suck, and that was a long time ago. On the other hand, unfortunately, he thinks climate change is bullshit, and is a fan of Alex Jones.

Brian: Oh no.

Quinn: The point is, 1983, last science PhD in the Senate. So, of the current Representatives, 435, we've got one PhD in math, one in Physics, and one in public health. Of course that guy voted against Obamacare.

Brian: Well, sure.

Quinn: So you know, that piece of paper only means so much. Of all the state Senators-

Brian: Wow.

Quinn: And state Representatives across the entire country, which is so many, I just didn't even bother counting. There are three humans with degrees in chemical engineering, math, and physics. That's three. Shaughnessy, does it sound like I'm barking up the right tree here?

Shaughnessy: It is. They are grossly underrepresented. 

Brian: That is wild.

Quinn: So this, is all in an area where climate change, and clean energy, and disease outbreaks, yes, they threaten the planet and the species, which we just talked about. But also, both their causes and their effects are, much of the time, hyper local to regional. And we desperately need decision makers in those areas, and then of course, on the Federal level, and International level who can speak the language. 

Brian: Man. 

Quinn: So continuing, there's 20 Doctors and retired Doctors across congress. But of course, that includes Rand Paul, which is complete bullshit. So look, I'm a science and tech nerd. If that wasn't true, we wouldn't have this little podcast. We wouldn't know how to operate our microphones. I'm also a Liberal Arts graduate, who firmly believes every tech company ... any company, needs to have at least two Chief Liberal Arts major offices who can argue the ethics of every decision. So, the move fast and break things nerds don't keep breaking society. And that, applies to Congress, too, right? STEM isn't everything. Neither is Philosophy, though. Or Peace and Conflict studies. They need each other, and quite desperately, in some situations, like these. And to me, that's especially true in 2018, when we are uncovering and parsing huge amounts of data. And theoretically, trying to use it to make major decisions, right? Healthcare, theoretically, hopefully. We still don't know really what we're doing with a lot of that, right? We talk about the black box and AI. We don't know why a lot of these things are making decision when it comes to machine learning. Or we're not utilizing it, right? Because the people in charge are unqualified. Or they're 85, and they don't have a fucking clue what any of the things in the last 10 seconds even mean, right?

Brian: Right.

Quinn: So, we need way more folks across the demographics, across perspectives, that understand first principles that can grasp empirical data. It can find the signal and the noise, and how to build policies founded on real evidence, because again, just getting specific, the EPA and the Department of Interior have been kidnapped, essentially, and it feels like we're watching ... what was the Nicholas Cage ... The Rock. Right?

Brian: Oh, so good.

Quinn: It's been kidnapped and ransacked, just by these fucking morons with evil agendas who don't care about you, or your children. So great news-

Brian: "I'm Sean Connery."

Quinn: There is great news, though. Because of people like Shaughnessy, there is a shit load of Scientists and Doctors who have had enough, and are running for office. So the question is, again, can Scientists save Congress, and save the world? Shaughnessy, first question for you, how do you guys choose candidates to endorse?

Shaughnessy: For Congress, there's a number of factors. I mean, early in 2017, we looked at the map of our country, and how districts voted in the 2016 Presidential race. There were a number of Congressmen, believe it or not, that went uncontested, even with pretty ridiculous views and stances on things that the scientific consensus is clear on, like climate. And so-

Brian: Just because nobody wanted to run against them? Nobody got their shit together to do it?

Shaughnessy: Yeah, I mean, I can't say what the reason was in 2016, but too often, incumbents go unchallenged. And so, they were districts that the Republican incumbent was reelected, and Hillary Clinton won in the same district. And so that, was part of what goes in, too, is the demographics of the district, how it voted, where we think it's trending. Also, what the incumbent looks like. Early in 2017, we put some incumbents on notice that we were going to be recruiting a strong candidate in their district to challenge them. And Lamar Smith, who is the Republican Chair of the Health, Science and Technology Committee-

Brian: Oh, that fuckin' guy. Lamar, he's Texas 21, right?

Shaughnessy: Texas 21.

Quinn: That's right. We just had our-

Brian: We just interviewed Kopser, yeah.

Quinn: Conversation with your boy, Kopser.

Shaughnessy: We are very excited about Kopser. I mean-

Brian: Big fan. Big fan. 

Shaughnessy: He is doing a tremendous job. And I think the fact that Smith decided to retire, rather than face a credible challenger, speaks volumes as to what Kopser is bringing to that race, and the discussion.

Brian: For sure.

Shaughnessy: And then, we look at the candidates. It's not good enough just to have a STEM background. We want people that are independent thinking, and rooted in facts and evidence, and willing to base policy decisions on that. And that match their district. It's a big country, and every district is different.

Quinn: Yeah, it definitely is. It's easy to say, "We need people to understand climate signs," but if you represent Norfolk, or New Orleans, or Manhattan, you better be thinking about flooding, and understand how the fuck sea level rise. And you better be talking to the Dutch about what they do with sea level rise, you know? Et cetera, et cetera, versus if you represent Mendocino County, you better be thinking about fires. It is important. We can't just say they need science stuff, but people who get that, and get their district. Just like Kopser, his grasp of clean energy is so important in a state that is just barreling towards huge, huge revenue from wind energy.

Shaughnessy: Yeah, I mean ... and going back to what you had started off saying, is that we do benefit by having diversity of experience. And whether it's election security, or automation, or privacy, or climate change, who better to be tackling these issues than people trained in the sciences?

Quinn: Yeah, and it just seems like, yes, we need 1000 different things, right? It's a little beggars can't be choosers, but to me, it's like, we have to start with the lowest common denominator of just at least having people that agree to found their decisions on empirical data. Whatever their specialization is.

Shaughnessy: Yeah. I couldn't agree more.

Brian: That just seems so obvious. How is that not-

Shaughnessy: Unfortunately, it's not. I mean, there are too many Politicians that look to party platforms, or ideologues for solutions, rather than actually looking at the data and evidence.

Quinn: So, this can be overwhelming, especially just to a regular Joe voter, like me. What's the specific focus most needed in Congress, if you could put one at the top, you know, today? Healthcare, or clean energy, atmospheric science, chemistry. Is there something for sure on top that we're missing, that we need to-

Shaughnessy: Well, I mean, we only talked about our Congregational candidates, but I do just wanna note that we endorse and support candidates from school Board, and local Municipal offices-

Brian: Oh, that's awesome. 

Shaughnessy: Through the state legislature and Federal. And I spent some time earlier this summer, calling through some of our endorsed candidates for both the Federal and state races, and the number one issue that I heard from, and that they're hearing from folks, when they're out campaigning, is healthcare. It is really a travesty of what the Trump administration, and frankly, what this Congress is doing, as far as chipping away at consumer protections that were provided to Americans under the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. And it's largely going under the radar, until it becomes your problem, when you can't get health insurance, or something covered. That is an issue, we've seen a lot of Physicians step up this year, to run, because of what the repeal of ... or the chipping away of the ACA would do to their patients. And so, I think that is a very valuable voice to have. Even some of the candidates that we have that aren't medical Doctors, have really made that a focus of their campaigns. And there are, I guess I would say, patches that we could be putting into the Affordable Care Act, that would reduce costs, and increase that success. And it's just the fact that there are so many ideologues in Congress, that things like that aren't happening, that would better healthcare for a lot of people.

Quinn: Boy, ideologues is such a kind way of putting it. You're much more gentle about this than we are. 

Brian: Could we back up just for one second? When you are saying that you're supporting candidates, what does that mean exactly? Is it just fundraising? Or what else do you guys do?

Quinn: Yeah, are you guys making tools?

Shaughnessy: Yeah, so we hold candidate trainings throughout the year. Our last one was in San Francisco, where it's basically two day boot camp for Scientists and STEM professionals that are interested in running for office. Obviously, the one we held last month was not for candidates for 2018, it's for people looking at 2019 and beyond. But we go over everything from fundraising, communication strategies, putting together a campaign team, just everything that would be involved in running for office, and can be applied to any level of office. And then, we give the most personal attention to the Federal candidates, just because we are a small staff, and that's what we can do.

Quinn: How big are you guys?

Shaughnessy: We are eight.

Quinn: Oh, holy ... wait-

Brian: Whoa.

Quinn: Holy shit, wow.

Brian: Wow.

Quinn: That's impressive.

Brian: Yes, that is small. 

Shaughnessy: But we have an army of supporters. We also help to fundraise for our candidates. One thing that really jumped out to me, is that we have over 135,000 contributors who have given $20 or less. And I think that really-

Brian: That's awesome.

Shaughnessy: Speaks to the strength of our message, and the fact that Americans are waking up, and realizing that where the country is, is not where it needs to be.

Quinn: Yeah, and I'd really love to hear your perspective, a little bit, on some of these other amazing organizations that I think are so ... and I've said this before, and it's a little heretical, but I don't think any of these things, and organizations, and folks honestly would've stepped up, had Hillary won, but everything from 314 to Flippable, to Swing Left, to 5 Calls, to Town Hall Project, to Run for Something, we needed this to happen, and it is seemingly been going really well. And I'm curious, your perspective on all of these organizations, and how they're helping push forward to November 6th.

Shaughnessy: Oh, I think it's really important, and great that so many people are stepping up. I was talking to an Engineer at Twitter a few weeks ago, and he said to me, "I just need our government to go back to a level of competency, so I can go back to not paying attention." And I said, "You know,"-

Brian: Whoa.

Shaughnessy: "that's how we got here."

Quinn: Yeah, and by the way, I don't think that guy's alone. I think there's a lot of people that are gonna be fired up for life, which is awesome. But of course, there's always gonna be segments like, "All right, fine. I promise you, I will pay attention until November 6th, and we'll vote. I will bring one friend to vote. I will do the thing. I will donate. And then, please just make it better, because this is too much." And I get it. It is fucking overwhelming. It is relentless, it is terrifying. But like you said, man, that's how we got here, dude. You know?

Shaughnessy: Yes. One thing that is encouraging as well, is the young people that are getting involved, whether it's over climate, or gun control issues, and I think for them, this isn't going to be a one-off voting. We know that if you start voting young, you're gonna probably continue voting. And that's really encouraging, to see them so civically minded, and engaged at such a young age.

Brian: We've had 17 and 18 year old guests on this podcast that are just blowing my mind.

Quinn: Yeah.

Brian: With how impassioned they are.

Quinn: Yeah. I mean, teenagers are generally exasperated by their parents, and older generations-

Brian: Right.

Quinn: Throughout the years. It feels like this is sort of the apex of that, where they're just like, "You guys ruined everything. Please get out of the way, and we will fix it." Let me ask you this. So, aside from their scientific qualifications, right? Or medical whatever. What else makes these folks good candidates, 'cause I imagined, and you can tell me if I'm wrong here, you're not just out there endorsing everybody who's got a degree. 'Cause just because you've got a degree, cough, Rand Paul, doesn't mean you'll help lead us in the right direction. So, talk to me about how you, I guess, filter to make sure these are well-rounded humans.

Shaughnessy: Sure. Well, I mean, first and foremost, I do very much believe that we benefit by having diversity of experience. And just looking back to the Facebook hearings that happened in the House and Senate a few months ago, it was a national embarrassment. I mean-

Quinn: God, they were so, I mean, they were embarrassing, creepy. The whole thing.

Shaughnessy: And it's a significant part of our economy. And the fact that so many of our Legislators don't even understand the basic business model, nevermind the technology, or the implications, is pretty terrifying. Part of what we wanna do is bring Technologists in, bring Physicists, and Physicians, and Climatologists, and Nurses, and Geologists.

Brian: Yes, yes, yes, yes.

Shaughnessy: We've seen a number of math and science teachers elected to state Legislatures in the last year and a half. So, I do think that, that brings a different perspective. Certainly, one more grounded in facts and evidence. As well as, a different set of priorities. I mean, first and foremost, Scientists are problem solvers. And I don't think it requires much of a case to say we could use more problem solvers in Congress.

Quinn: People who can literally just ... I mean, and you learn this in 7th grade, who can say what the Scientific Method is?

Brian: Right.

Shaughnessy: And use it.

Quinn: Right. I don't care if it's even your profession. Just that you remember what it is, or you remember how to look it up. You know? And think, like, "I don't know. Maybe this is a good idea."

Brian: Yeah, "Maybe we should try this."

Shaughnessy: I remember reading, years ago, that part of what contributed to harsh drug sentences, were that Legislators that were decided the policy didn't understand the difference between a gram and a kilogram.

Brian: Perfect. Perfect.

Quinn: Great, great. And that's the kinda thing that makes you go, "Oh, we gotta blow the whole thing up."

Brian: Right, right.

Shaughnessy: Well, and that, I guess I would say that is also part of it. I mean, these are largely political outsiders, and they bring a different approach to governing. Again, a less ideological, but one that is going to look clear-eyed at what the problems are, and find ways to fix it. 

Quinn: Yeah, and you know, it's funny, I've got ... one of my best friends is working to literally save healthcare, on the ground level, and sort of the analytics front. And his job is, he's been basically tasked with, he works in a ... not rural, but rural-ish area in actually, a great research hospital. And his job is to basically make people stop coming to the emergency room so much. In that specific area, there's a lot of things that are transferable, or across regions in America, like obesity, and diabetes and such. But in his particular area, it's a lot of these people just don't take their medicine, they don't exercise, they smoke, et cetera, et cetera. So, you can send 'em out of emergency room every time, and they have pain in their chest, but they're not gonna follow the directions that you tell them to do with the medicine, or to do check-up care. Or they don't have healthcare, because we broke that. But if you can make them not come to the emergency room every time they don't feel well, A. It frees up the emergency room to deal with real-

Brian: Actual emergencies.

Quinn: Emergencies. Two, it costs our system so much less money, because it's not as reactive. And three, those people are just healthier, because they're getting check-ups, and scans, and getting their blood pressure taken, and things like that. And just having someone like him, who he will never run for office, but having someone like him in there, to say, "Look, this is how it works." Or even further, you said a word earlier, which would be incredible, like, a Nurse. Having an emergency room Nurse say, "I'm gonna stop helping people with my hands, and I will run for office. And let me tell you what that's like, and why it's broken, and why you have to wait three hours for the emergency room, and why the bills cost so much, et cetera, et cetera," would be so instrumental, and just indicative of a surge of intelligence, and context, that could change the whole direction of the House. I don't know. It's mind blowing to me.

Shaughnessy: Compassion. I mean-

Brian: Yes.

Shaughnessy: For healthcare providers, access to healthcare, again, isn't a political issue. It's a real life or death issue. And I think too many Politicians on the other side have forgotten that. Just on that note of Nurses, we have a slew of Nurses running this year. We have one running for Congress, Lauren Underwood, in Illinois, who is a tremendous candidate. And I know we have two, right here in Pennsylvania, running for the State House, and State Senate, which are in very winnable districts. Which would be amazing.

Quinn: Amazing.

Shaughnessy: Could get them elected.

Brian: Lauren Underwood's from Naperville. That's like two towns over from mine.

Quinn: Yeah?

Brian: That's where I grew up.

Quinn: Did you know her?

Brian: I don't ... no, I'm not sure if I know her. But we were neighbors at one point, is what I'm saying.

Quinn: Ish. Okay. Brian, are you one of those people that says, "I'm from Chicago," but you're not really from Chicago. You're from a nearby area?

Brian: So, let me get this straight. What do you want me to say when somebody asks me where I'm from? Is name the tiny town that I'm from, 20 miles outside of Chicago that they've never heard of?

Quinn: I'm just saying, that's a little more specific and accurate.

Brian: That is stupid. I'm from Chicago.

Quinn: Okay. Anyways. 

Brian: Sorry about that, Shaughnessy.

Quinn: We get distracted. Let me ask you this. So, one of the failings of the Obama era from President Obama, who I love with all of my heart.

Brian: Can he come back? 

Quinn: He's not coming back.

Brian: Got it, okay.

Quinn: We all saw the Beyonce dancing video. They're not coming back for us. From him, on down through the DNC, is that we just totally failed on the state level, right? From judges to filling State Houses. So, I love that you guys are focused, not just on the Senate, but also on the House, and also state races, down to School Boards. That's amazing. And it's something we failed to do, for literally, 10 years. So, and that is gonna have such an affect.

Shaughnessy: Maybe 40 years.

Quinn: Look, I'm trying to be the gentle one here. You know? For once. It's not great. Right? If you look at the numbers, I mean, from Governorships on down, it's so bad. And that's why you see shit like what's going on in West Virginia, and North Carolina, and you're just like, "What?" It's insane. So let's say I argue that state races are even more important than Federal ones, right? Earth systems are all, or whether and climate systems are all connected, but the effects, and the best way to fight back, and see progress, seem to be city and statewide. I don't know. You don't have to agree or disagree. But I would love to talk about that a little bit.

Shaughnessy: I think that's true, because of the makeup of Congress. I mean, Congress could be doing actionable things to mitigate the effects of climate change, but they choose not to. So, I think we are going to see the greatest results coming out of cities and states. And the reality is, it's a big country, but most of the people live in a few states. And those are states that are most likely, are producing the most meta carbon, but also are the most likely to act on reducing it.

Quinn: And I mean, it feels like it's even more ... yes, do we need a Federal carbon fee? For sure. Right? That is necessarily. But to me, obviously, in the moment, Trump's not going anywhere anytime soon, right? So, he's gonna veto whatever happens. And you see things like this new Mayor's Alliance.

Brian: Yes.

Quinn: And the We Are Still In Alliance, hyper local is so vital. Getting your City Council. Like you said, your School Board, to your City Council, to the State Legislatures, on State Senates, pointed in the right direction is so important, 'cause they can have a big effect. They can join this, they can go to the Climate Summit in San Francisco, and things like that, and say, "We are still in, and we are still taking these measures." That, to me, is why, at least right now, it's like, boy, we've really gotta focus on that. And it feels like that's been ... I think it's always been a failure of American politics, is nobody turns out for the mid-terms. Not even just Democrats, but it seems to be so important. But also, it's where you can see the most bang for your buck.

Shaughnessy: Oh, absolutely. I mean, that's the thing, is Congressional races now, are millions and millions of dollars, whereas a School Board race, I mean a couple thousand dollars could make a difference, depending on the states. I mean, again, it's a huge country, and State Legislatures vary pretty dramatically, depending on how the states are set up, but you can make a very big difference by just paying attention, and mobilizing people. And I just have to make a plus for the Philadelphia suburbs where I am speaking to you from. We not only are going to pick up a number of Congressional seats in the Philadelphia suburbs this year, but we have an opportunity to really change the makeup of the folks we're sending to Harrisburg, in both the State House, and State Senate. A lot of the moderate Republicans that represented this area in Harrisburg, retired this year. These are open seats in districts that Clinton may have one by as much as seven points. So, for your listeners, if they are looking to help in a big way, look to the Philadelphia suburbs.

Quinn: Yeah, that works. I mean, it makes sense. It's like, "Hey, were you shocked when Pennsylvania didn't go our way in 2016? Here's a direct, please, you can have it right back. Let's build it from the ground back up." Yeah, I mean you think, there are towns where ... there's a town in Virginia where 95% of their emissions are coming from a canning factory. And yes, that canning factory brings jobs, and has historically brought a lot to the economy in that area, but you have to look at where the trade-off is, and you gotta ask your City Council those big questions of, "What is the trade-off now in 2018, and going forward? And holy shit, if we got rid of that canning factory, and found some way to help out those workers, you're saying we could wipe out 95% of our emissions, and literally just make the air cleaner where we are?

Brian: Where we live, where we breathe.

Quinn: Yeah, what a huge impact you can make. While we're waiting on fucking Congress to get it together, you can start to fix things right there. Don't be afraid to ask those hard questions.

Shaughnessy: Yeah, exactly.

Brian: All right, I have a question. Mostly from 80s action movies. How can this go bad? Where can Scientists lead us wrong?

Shaughnessy: Well, I mean, science isn't perfect, and Scientists certainly aren't perfect, but I don't see a downside to having civically-minded Scientists engaged in electoral politics. I think their motivations come through when I speak to them. I mean, there's a clarity of vision. There's an ability to articulate why they're running, and what they want to accomplish, even for a Township Supervisor role. And I think that's often missing from career Politicians that are just seeing it as a stepping stone. We do benefit by bringing in outsiders, and I think that was part of the conclusion I drew form 2016, of how Trump won, was people are sick of the system.

Quinn: But wait, I thought he drained the swamp.

Shaughnessy: He has definitively-

Brian: Has the swamp got drained?

Shaughnessy: Not drained the swamp.

Brian: Got it. Okay.

Shaughnessy: But I would argue that Scientists represent outsiders in a much more productive and benevolent way.

Quinn: Yeah, to me, I guess, I can see where you mean, you're talking about 80s action, like the Scientist who starts to work for the bad guys and-

Brian: Yeah, like an evil genius. You know?

Quinn: Right. Got it.

Brian: So, I guess just make sure you're not endorsing any evil geniuses, Shaughnessy.

Quinn: Right. But by the way, the other side of that, and again, I hate to keep coming back to it, but it's true. It's like, someone like Rand Paul who's like, "Yeah, I'm a Doctor, so you should listen to me on medical stuff," and then that, can influence voters in one particular direction, who might not take the time or the effort to look up and be like, "Is he?"

Brian: Right, right.

Quinn: "Is he?" But-

Shaughnessy: He's shown that his loyalty is to his career, and not to his constituents or the truth.

Brian: Right.

Quinn: Sure. But my argument would be, every vote matters. I mean, you look at what happened in Virginia. Their House of Delegates came down to ... and I care about this. I'm from Virginia. One vote. Literally, one vote in one district. Swung that, gave them even seats, and now 400,000 people have healthcare that didn't have it last year. Right? And to me, there is still somebody out there who is voting, or has an opinion, and his influencing people on, like you said, the chipping away to Obamacare, because they're like, "Well, Rand Paul's a Doctor, and he's in my district, and he, obviously, knows what to do. He knows the right thing to do." And to me, it's like, you've gotta get those fucking quacks out. We gotta make sure there's vetting. And so, I think it's 2018. People get, like you said, I think you could get away with that for a little bit longer now, and it's very clear that's not true, and I think vetting is much easier now. I mean, you can't do anything these days without the social-

Brian: Oh yeah.

Quinn: Calamity coming upon you and exposing your bullshit. Which is good and bad. So, here's a question. I look at someone like Kopser, right? Where might a scientifically-inclined entrepreneur be a better fit than an Academic?

Shaughnessy: Well, I think it's really hard to go from academia to running for Congress. It's not impossible, and I think for law Professors, there's generally more of a path there. But again, I think there's generally more of a path for lawyers in general. Not every ... we have over 500,000 elected positions in this country. And not all of them require you quitting your job, or putting your career on hold. Things like School Board, and City Council, Township Supervisor races, even some State Legislative positions are part-time. So, I think that is an easier fit for Academics that can't afford, and don't really want to give up their careers, but still wanna serve their communities. Where running for Congress is a full-time job. You can't do that, and continue to teach, and research, and run for office.

Quinn: Right, which is too bad, 'cause Congress was never intended to be a full-time job, but things are obviously changing. And the degree with what you do have to educate yourself on the topics that are ever changing, and growing more complex, requires that. But I guess, then, the antidote is people who are educated, and are proud to base their decision making on their education. On their ability ... maybe they don't comprehend an issue, but they're eager to take it on, to understand it for themselves, and for their constituents, right?

Shaughnessy: That is exactly it, is they're not afraid to tackle topics and issues that they maybe previously weren't familiar with, but are important to their constituents.

Quinn: This is a ridiculous comparison, but it's a-

Brian: Oh, it's upsetting.

Quinn: No, it's a little bit how I see this podcast, when is we try to stand in for these folks that don't have time to ... that are excited, and actionable, and fired up, but don't have time to educate themselves on every one of these things. So we try to learn as much, or I guess, I try to learn as much as I can, and then Brian asks questions.

Brian: I'm live learning.

Quinn: Live learning, it's a beautiful thing to watch.

Brian: Beautiful.

Quinn: It's like watching Animal Planet. We try to give context, ask questions, and then dial it down to specifics so you can, at the end of it, go like, "Got it. I've got that thing. I know how to act."

Brian: "I can do these things."

Quinn: And you hope that's what your Representative is doing in Congress, which is, should they actually have a Town Hall, come back and be able to answer your questions, and point you in the right direction, and why that's important for America, and also for your specific district. But of course, we've discovered a lot of folks aren't having Town Halls, which is great. So, you should either call them on it, or if they have one, you should go. Town Hall Project. Very important.

Quinn: Let me ask you a question here, and we're pivoting a little more towards action. Narrowing our focus here, towards what folks can do. And this has been awesome, and very instructive so far. So, thank you, Shaughnessy. Do you know what The Great Filter is?

Brian: You love The Great Filter.

Quinn: I love The Great Filter. Do you know what this is, Shaughnessy? This theory?

Shaughnessy: [inaudible 00:47:20].

Quinn: Okay, get ready for it.

Brian: Get into it.

Quinn: So, the idea is, do you know what the Fermi Paradox is? I'll just dig in. It's all good. 

Brian: You're such a nerd. I love it.

Quinn: So, Scientist Fermi, one day, I don't know, 20, 30 years ago, sitting with his friends at the lunch table and says, "Hey guys, question. Where are all the other intelligent species?" And they're like, "Oh, well there's all these planets," yada, yada, and he goes, "That's great, but why haven't we seen them yet, if the Universe is X old?" And so, the question is, is why isn't anybody out there? And why haven't we seen them or heard from them? Right? And some of the answers are like, "Oh, our species is pretty young," or, "Earth has only been around six and a half billion years. Humans are 300,000. We could only work a fucking radio for the last 40." Et cetera, et cetera. But the bigger question is, is The Great Filter. Which is, maybe part of the reason we haven't heard from them, is because there is a theoretical filter where a civilization gets to a certain point, and they get snuffed out. And either that's, they don't make this jump from single to multicellular beings. Like humans did. Or they can't handle nuclear technology, see also human beings, potentially. Or climate change, or a pandemic, whatever-

Brian: [inaudible 00:48:36].

Quinn: The point is, these civilizations don't make it past a certain threshold to be able to develop interstellar travel. Right? And of course, the question for humanity is, have we passed our Great Filter? Which could be on the cellular level. Or was getting past the Cold War it? Or are we barreling towards ours, with climate change, and antibiotics, and things like that? Anyways, lets say November 6, 2018 is our Great Filter. The thing, we might escape the shit show, and then we can keep flourishing and become robots. Or maybe not.

Brian: I just wanna be a robot.

Quinn: Let's say I've got a degree, or I'm working on a degree. Or I'm even science-minded. Too late for 2018. How should I best apply myself, looking towards 2020.

Shaughnessy: Well one is, you better be registered to vote. And a lot of states have restrictive voting registration deadlines. So don't wait. A lot of them are 30 days out, or even more. So, that's one. Two, educate yourself on who's running. There are, of course, the Congressional midterms, but we also have a lot of State Legislative races. Those are important, and you need to vote in them. 

Shaughnessy: And then, looking ahead, we'll be holding our next candidate training in Philadelphia this time, early next year. And that's open to anybody with a STEM background, who is thinking about running for office, wants to know more. You don't have to have declared a race to participate in that. One of the things that I really try to emphasize is that even the most anti-science Politicians know how to count. And they count-

Quinn: Well.

Shaughnessy: They count the calls that come into their office, so make your voice heard. When your Representative is doing something you don't like, let them know. When they're doing something that you do like, let them know. It makes a difference, and a lot of people don't appreciate the difference that it can make.

Quinn: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that's one of the ... I've advised a little bit, and that's one of their big pushes, is like, "Look," and it's right built into the app. You literally click, you make the phone call, they give you the script. It's like Mad Libs, they plug in everything you need. You just mash your fat finger against the button to make the phone call, and then you say, "I talked to them, I left a message, or they didn't pick up," because they have to count every one of these things, and they do. Even the evil people, you're right. And we've seen it make a difference on shit like healthcare.

Shaughnessy: It makes a difference. It absolutely makes a difference.

Quinn: And if you're nervous, do it in the middle of the night. Leave a message. They still have to count it.

Brian: Right, right.

Quinn: You don't even have to talk to another human, right? It's super easy. Do it when you're shit-canned. Nobody cares.

Brian: I wonder if people know that.

Quinn: We've said it so many times. 

Brian: I mean, sure, we have.

Quinn: We need to be better about it, but over the next few months, it's important. I mean, obviously, that's not really the voting thing. Right now, that's for the people who are in office.

Brian: Right.

Quinn: But that's when big ... but there's always something going on, should they actually do their jobs. I guess they've been on recess a little bit now. So, I guess, actually, we're looking at two questions. Let's do 2018 first. What are the ways our listeners can take to arms to help get these folks that you're endorsing, into office? Give us some specific steps here. 

Shaughnessy: Sure, well go to our website,, and sign up. We'll keep you informed on how their races are going. And what local or Federal candidates that we are endorsing, and asking them support. The Koch Brothers and the fossil fuel industry are going to invest heavily in these midterm elections, and every dollar on our side counts, and needs to go towards helping people are going to bring a pro-science agenda with them. And so that is important. Those $5.00 requests for funds do make a difference. And so, get involved that way. Volunteer. You can make phone calls, you can knock on doors, you can send ... they have text messaging banking now. Everyone is needed in this effort, because the other side is probably going to have more money, but the votes are, and the people are on our side.

Brian: Is the volunteering, is that the people who can sign up to volunteer, is that through your website as well?

Shaughnessy: Yep. You can sign up to volunteer, you can see more about our candidates, see more about our trainings and upcoming events, and how to get involved.

Quinn: Awesome, awesome. So all right, everybody,


Quinn: Go there. Put a Scientist, or someone who is scientifically-inclined, or medically-inclined into office at a number of different levels. Your school district might be there. But let's make a difference. Let's put a Nurse in the Congress and just watch what happens. Watch what a fundamental shift that could be.

Brian: All right, so I have two questions. You had mentioned before, your next training in Pennsylvania, early next year. You said that anybody can come.

Quinn: For 2019, 2020?

Brian: Yeah, for 2019, 2020. You said anybody with a STEM background can come. What does that mean, exactly? Do they need a degree?

Shaughnessy: Yeah, I mean, our organization is focused on people with science, technology, engineering and math backgrounds. Usually, that's somebody with a degree in one of those fields.

Brian: Okay, okay. I see.

Quinn: So helpful to have the piece of paper.

Brian: So, not me, then.

Quinn: Right.

Brian: All right.

Quinn: Sorry, pal.

Brian: It's fine. No, it's fine.

Quinn: You could get a degree in the meantime.

Brian: That is true, I could.

Quinn: Right?

Brian: I've got a year and a half.

Quinn: Right.

Brian: Okay, and then, so what else can I be doing?

Quinn: Well, no, we've narrowed it down to not being you.

Brian: Well, not me.

Quinn: You're saying, theoretically, I.

Brian: I'm saying, "I," as in the formal. The we, I.

Quinn: Sure.

Brian: But really, yeah. What can we, those with STEM degrees and backgrounds be doing to prepare to run besides coming to your training. Let's just think like, Rocky style. What do I do?

Quinn: Wait a minute, she said the training is in Philadelphia.

Brian: Yeah, it's perfect.

Quinn: So, run up the steps, get your science degree. This is amazing. But seriously, whether November 6th is a shit show or not, we're still gonna need even more folks. What else can these people be actively doing to put themselves in the best position?

Shaughnessy: Well, it's getting involved now. Get involved with your local Indivisible group, or party, or local officials.

Quinn: Indivisible, that's another great group that's out there.

Shaughnessy: Yeah. They're doing amazing work. And this is a unique opportunity to get people's attention who haven't necessarily paid attention to politics before. And so, take advantage of it, and work to engage your local community. And make sure that your Representatives are hearing what you have to say about issues.

Quinn: And yeah, man, get in touch with us if you're thinking about it. We would love to hear from you, and we can help connect you to some of these folks, if you're too shy to click on the websites yourself. We need you. That should be more evident than ever. And by the way, you look at some of these countries that have either mandatory civic, or mandatory military service, post collage, or before college, there is something to that. There's a lot of arguments rational folks can make either way for them. But hey man, let's say you're getting a degree, and you're like, "Yeah, you know what? I will go serve my country in a civic duty for the next two to four years. Serve my State House, and then I'll go and be an Academic, or be an entrepreneur or something." Fuck it, why not? Make your impact, and then get out there, and you can take that experience somewhere else. So, if you're a young kid, preferably if you're a female, or a person of color who's working on your degree, either undergraduate or graduate. Go make it count in that way, too, for a couple years.

Shaughnessy: And don't you think, I mean, the whole system would work better if people took that attitude, that they're gonna serve for X number of terms, and then go back and live under the laws that they helped create. That's the way the system was supposed to work.

Brian: That sounds wonderful.

Quinn: Yeah, it does sound wonderful, doesn't it? Don't get your fuckin' hopes up, Brian. No, I'm kidding.

Brian: Yeah, I know. All right, well, we just have a few more questions and stuff for you, but this has been so fantastic. Thank you so much, Shaughnessy-

Quinn: Yeah, thank you, thank you.

Brian: For your time. Anybody else that you think we should talk to? Anybody else who, like we like to say, who's kicking ass on the ground, like you are?

Quinn: Yeah, again, we've talked to a couple of your candidates. We've got a couple more lined up, which is awesome. I'd love to get even more from you. We're pretty excited to be featuring all of these folks, running up to the election. But also again, these existential-ish topics, whether it's antibiotics, or cancer, or CRISPR, or space, or climate, or clean energy, or the ocean, we like to attack them from different perspectives so people really get a comprehensive understanding of them. And now, they can support them or defeat them. So anybody out there that's doing awesome work, that you think would be a fascinating chat, would be awesome.

Shaughnessy: Yeah well, I mean, of course I wanna put a plug in for our candidates, Kim Schrier, who's a Pediatrician. Just won her primary in Washington 8. This is an open seat in a very swingy district.

Quinn: Not that swingy, Brian.

Brian: Oh. Sorry.

Quinn: Thank you. Sorry.

Shaughnessy: She's an incredible candidate, and I mean, right now, there are not female Physicians in Congress, so I think she would bring, really, a much-needed perspective.

Quinn: That's, again, the understatement of the Century.

Brian: Right.

Quinn: God. Awesome. All right. We will add her to the list, and ask for her info.

Brian: I'm pumped about Underwood, too.

Shaughnessy: Underwood.

Brian: Gotta love the ... represent the Illinois.

Quinn: Yeah, for sure. For sure, for sure.

Brian: hopefully, that's right.

Shaughnessy: There's a number of candidates for the Arizona Legislature, and then not a candidate, but certainly a very interesting interview is Doctor Michael Mann. He's out of Penn State. He's a climate Scientist, who was motivated to get involved, because he literally was put under attack by Politicians, and his work, because he was doing work on climate change. And just has a very interesting story to tell.

Quinn: Yeah, it's funny, he co-wrote a children's book, and illustrated children's book called, The Tantrum-

Brian: That Saved the World.

Quinn: That Saved the World, with a lovely Aussie named, Megan Herbert. We actually had her on the podcast a couple months ago, and she's awesome. And the book is fantastic. So, we've slowly started-

Brian: We've started a thing.

Quinn: To encroach on his personal space, is what I'm trying to say. We'll get him in the real way, for sure.

Brian: Yeah, that's a good one. All right, so, we have a bit of a lightning round for you. Just a few questions, if you're ready for it.

Quinn: We need to get a bell.

Brian: I know, I always wanna ... or a lightning bolt sound.

Quinn: Sure. But a bell's more ... at least we could put it on the desk.

Brian: I like lightning.

Quinn: Okay. Shaughnessy, when was the first time in your life when you realized you had the power of change, or the power to do something meaningful?

Shaughnessy: I was a big sister, so I used to do lots of experiments on my brother.

Brian: Is he okay?

Shaughnessy: Yeah. I think I've always taken the approach that ... not to accept the status quo. And when I see a problem, I try to fix it. And that's why I ran for Congress, and it's why I founded 314 Action. So, I think that we need to realize that we all can make a contribution, and it's not going to be in the same way for everybody, but it does require paying attention and participating.

Quinn: Awesome. I love that. Who is someone in your life that has positively impacted your work in the past six months. And usual disclaimer, you can not say Brian.

Shaughnessy: I mean-

Brian: So who's the second person?

Shaughnessy: The staff at 314 Action has been amazing. We are a very small staff, but very dedicated. And many of them came from my very first campaign, so they really showed a lot of dedication, and we've worked together for five years now, and I just ... they inspire me, and help us get what we've been able to accomplish done.

Quinn: That's awesome. So-

Brian: Oh, that's great.

Quinn: Let me ask you this. I'm sure you've had plenty of candidates lose their primaries. They're out of the race. People you've backed or are excited about. Generally, day-to-day news is ... I mean, nightmare feels just like the usual word that people use.

Brian: It's a pretty big one, yeah.

Quinn: We can get more descriptive with it. What do you, Shaughnessy, what do you do when you feel just fuckin' overwhelmed by all of it? What do you, specifically?

Shaughnessy: I am not one to get discouraged. I keep my focus on what the goal is. And things don't always go my way, but I know what the goal is, and what I have to do to get there. And I think that helps you in politics, and helps in life, is knowing what your goal is, and not being discouraged or distracted by the noise.

Quinn: That's impressive.

Brian: Yeah, wow.

Quinn: I mean, we have people who say, "I eat ice cream, I go for a walk, I take a nap, I hide under the covers."

Brian: That still works.

Quinn: Yep. But that's impressive.

Brian: Wow.

Quinn: You are better than I, certainly.

Shaughnessy: I think it goes back to that dumb, stubborn Irishman thing.

Quinn: Look, I'm as Irish as it gets. I get it. There's a lot of pros and cons to being Irish. Both sides, involve drinking. Which is interesting.

Brian: Shaughnessy, how do you consume the news?

Shaughnessy: Well, I'm a little bit of an NPR geek. I read. I talk to folks, which is always interesting, too, because-

Brian: That's weird.

Shaughnessy: Even, as much as ... you can't possibly know what is going on in a little town in Iowa. You don't know somebody there, so yeah. And I do listen to podcasts. So, I try to not just ... especially with editorials, not just read people who are going to just be telling me what I wanna hear. But I often read things that really annoy me, because I think it's important to challenge yourself to think differently, and at least try to understand where the other side is coming from.

Brian: Of course, of course. Excellent. Okay.

Quinn: That's very rational.

Brian: This is my favorite question. If you could Amazon Prime one book to Donald Trump, what would it be?

Shaughnessy: Well, he already has the Constitution and the Bible, right? So, we don't have to worry about that.

Brian: Does he? Who knows.

Quinn: Because literally, one of our guests said, "I think it has to be the Constitution."

Brian: Yeah, we have gotten Constitution-

Quinn: Constitution's not there.

Brian: And The Green Bible.

Shaughnessy: I'm sure that's already been sent to him, at this point.

Quinn: And yes, by the way, to be clear, to explain this, we have an Amazon list. You can find it on our website. It's a wish list. And folks can go there, and actively do go there, and you can click on the book, and it goes right to the White House. Amazon Prime. 

Shaughnessy: Maybe a biography of Teddy Roosevelt. You know? I mean-

Brian: Oh, there's some good ones.

Shaughnessy: That, there are some great ones. And I think, especially in a time we're living, he is a real example of what we could use from more Politicians, as far as courage to take on the big banks, and thinking about environmental policy, and land preservation. I mean, there's a lot there.

Quinn: Yeah, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt is one of my favorite all-time books. It's pretty amazing. So, we can pick another one, or I can throw that one on there. It's part of a collection by Edmund Morris, I believe. But it's amazing. It's like, from boyhood to-

Brian: Oh wow.

Quinn: Facing up the first Politicians in Albany, and how he grew into who he was. And it's just incredible. You're like, "Oh, he was a crazy person." 

Brian: That's right.

Quinn: But in the best way, as opposed to current crazy person.

Brian: Yeah. Oh, current crazy is very bad.

Quinn: Not helpful. Not helpful. Awesome. Shaughnessy, this has been so great. Where can our listeners follow you on the internet?

Shaughnessy: Well, I am on Facebook at Shaughnessy Naughton. And my Twitter handle is still VoteShaughnessy.

Quinn: Awesome. Staying optimistic. That's what we like.

Shaughnessy: Unfortunately, my name doesn't fit on a Twitter handle, so.

Quinn: Ours either. It's super fun.

Brian: We're familiar with this problem.

Quinn: Awesome. And what about for 314?

Shaughnessy: 314 Action, we're on Facebook, Twitter, I'm sure we're on some other outlets. But at-

Brian: There's so many now, we will find you.

Shaughnessy: Yeah. 314 Action is our handle.

Quinn: And just, I realized, I don't think we ever did this. Could you just take 30 seconds and tell everybody why it's 314?

Shaughnessy: Well, 314-

Quinn: I mean, the true nerds are like, "We get it. We know. You don't have to tell us."

Brian: Got it.

Quinn: But for everybody else. For Brian.

Shaughnessy: 314 are the first three digits of pi, which is a constant use throughout the sciences. So we thought that was a good nod to our support of folks from the various STEM fields. It also happens to be an irrational number. Which I think also fits well into our mission, and what we're trying to do.

Quinn: Yeah. I think that sums it up pretty damn well.

Brian: That's awesome.

Quinn: Shaughnessy, this has been awesome. Thank you for doing what you do, and empowering these folks, and helping 'em get out of the STEM closet to come and do something else. They're already doing things, of course, but for ... oh, dammit. They're already doing things for the greater good. You get what I'm talking about. The point is, run for office. Thank you. Hopefully, it's gonna make an impact, and we won't be 50% Scientists on November 7th, but hopefully it's a hell of a lot more than it is.

Brian: Yeah. I feel like we're on the right path. It's just gonna take a minute.

Quinn: And now, you're optimistic like her, too.

Brian: Yeah.

Quinn: Oh, that's great. I'm glad you got something out of this. Shaughnessy, thank you. Keep kicking ass.

Brian: Thank you very much.

Quinn: We're gonna harass you for some more of your folks, so we can keep this series going. Make an impact. Let's do it.

Shaughnessy: Great. Thanks Quinn, thanks Brian.

Quinn: Awesome.

Shaughnessy: Great talking to you.

Quinn: We'll talk to you soon. Thank you.

Brian: Thank you.

Quinn: Take care.

Quinn: Thanks to our incredible guest today, and thanks to all of you for tuning in. We hope this episode has made your commute, or awesome workout, or dish washing, or fucking dog walking late at night, that much more pleasant. As a reminder, please subscribe to our free email newsletter at It is all the news most vital to our survival as a species. 

Brian: And you can follow us all over the internet. You can find us on Twitter at ImportantNotImp. That's so weird. Also, on Facebook and Instagram at ImportantNotImportant. Pinterest and Tumblr, the same thing. So check us out, follow us, share us, like us, you know the deal. And please subscribe to our show wherever you listen to things like this. And if you're really fucking awesome, rate us on Apple Podcasts. Keep the lights on. Thanks.

Quinn: Please.

Brian: And you can find the show notes from today right in your little podcast player, and our website,

Quinn: Thanks to the very awesome Tim Blane for our jamming music, to all of you, for listening, and finally, most importantly, to our moms for making us. Have a great day.

Brian: Thanks guys.