Science Pub Corvallis

Science Pub Corvallis offers thought-provoking presentations along with good food and drink in an informal atmosphere. Interact with experts, ask silly questions and leave feeling more nourished and knowledgeable. No scientific background is required – just bring your curiosity, sense of humor and appetite!

DATE: February 10, 2020

When Ideology Trumps Science: Why We Question the Experts on Everything from Climate Change to Vaccinations

SPEAKERS — Erika Wolters and Brent Steel, OSU School of Public Policy

LOCATION — Old World Deli, 341 SW 2nd St., Corvallis

Register for Science Pub here.

Why are some citizens in developed countries such as the United States less trusting of science, expert scientific consensus and government? Why are they, instead, prioritizing their ideological values?

Erika Wolters and Brent Steel, professors in the OSU School of Public Policy, will examine these questions. They will explore how proponents of scientific findings and the scientists responsible for conducting and communicating applicable research to decision makers are encountering direct challenges to scientific consensus. 

For example, while vaccines exist for many diseases, a 2010 outbreak of whooping cough in California infected more than 8,000 people, resulting in the hospitalization of over 800 people and deaths of 10 infants. In 2015, a measles outbreak in Disneyland infected more than 125 people. Both the whooping cough and the measles are vaccine preventable diseases that have been largely nonexistent in the United States for decades. As these cases demonstrate, individuals who prioritize ideology or personal beliefs above scientific consensus can impinge on society at large. These examples illustrate how rejecting science has unfortunate results for public health and the environment.  

Using examples from high-stakes policy debates centered on hot-button controversies such as climate change, GMO foods, immunization, stem cell research, abstinence only education and birth control, Wolters and Steel document how the contested nature of contemporary perspectives on science leads to the possibility that policymakers will not take science into account when making decisions that affect the general population. In addition, their research identifies ways in which liberals and conservatives have both contested issues of science when consensus diverges from their ideological and value positions. Possible approaches for overcoming the ideology-science divide in policy will also be presented for discussion.


March 9: Human Milk and Infant Health. Speaker, David Dallas, OSU professor in Public Health and Human Sciences

April 13: The Ecology of Surprise: Ecology and Ethics in an Old-Growth Forest. Speaker, Michael Nelson, Director, H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest

May 11: Runners and Their Shoes: Where non-traditional running footwear meets biomechanics. Speaker, Christine Pollard, Director of the FORCE Lab, OSU Cascades

June 1: Climate Change and Human Rights. Speaker, Allen Thompson, OSU professor of philosophy


Science Pub begins at 6 p.m. in the Old World Deli, 341 2nd St. in Corvallis and is free and open to the public. Registration is required and can be done online (the link will be available when registration opens) before the event or by contacting University Events at 541-737-4717 or If registration is closed (fully booked), walk-ins are welcome, but people who arrive without a ticket will not be admitted to the reserved seating area until 6 p.m.

Podcasts of previous Corvallis Science Pub events on topics such as “Technology in the Fields” and “From Wolves to the Warning to Humanity: Facing the Environmental Crisis through Science” are available at

For accommodations for disabilities or questions, contact University Events at 541-737-4717 or

Held on the second Monday of the month in Corvallis, Oregon, Science Pub is sponsored by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the Downtown Corvallis Association and Terra magazine at  Oregon State University.

Tell your friends and join us on Facebook to stay informed about upcoming guests. We hope to see you there! Or check out our podcast and catch the presentations online.

Make sure to secure your tickets for Science Pub Corvallis as we frequently have maximum capacity attendance. Please read the specifics below.

  • This is a free event, but registration is recommended.
  • Registration typically opens three weeks prior to each Science Pub.
  • Available on a first-come, first serve basis at the link above or by calling 541-737-4717.
  • Advanced registration recommended to guarantee a ticket/seat.
  • Only register if you plan on attending, please.
  • If plans change, please cancel your reservation via your initial confirmation email or by calling 541-737-4717.
  • Walk-ins welcome, but seating will not be guaranteed and is based on availability.
  • Register for the Science Pub listserv at Science Pub Corvallis Email List or 541-737-4717.