Maybe it has happened to you. You were talking to friends, or scrolling through Facebook when someone shares an outrageous political news story. You think, “that can’t be right.” After a quick check you confirm the story was actually fabricated by a click farm or satirical website. You might be able to set your friend straight, but what about the larger implications of living in a world where you can’t believe everything, if anything, you read or see.
David Barstow, the new head of UC Berkeley’s investigative journalism program, addressed the challenges facing truth during the Goldman School of Public Policy’s recent board of advisor’s dinner. Barstow examines attacks on the truth from several angles. There is the aforementioned rise of intentionally untruthful news. There is social media, granting anyone unfettered access to the masses. There are deepfakes, new technology allowing people to create increasingly convincing videos of politicians, celebrities and others saying whatever the creator wishes. And on top of it all, there is the rise of public relations firms putting pressure on the economically devastated journalism industry.
Barstow believes we are in a great contest between a world of truth and a kingdom of lies. He shows how investigative reporting can excavate truth from a mountain of deceit, from his work examining President Trump’s finances, to Ronin Farrow’s reporting on Harvey Weinstein. Now, the four-time Pulitzer Prize winner hopes to inspire a new generation of journalists.
Willie Brown has spent his life in public service. He served over 30 years in the California State Assembly – 15 of those years as Speaker – before becoming the first African American mayor of San Francisco. For the past 10 years, he’s been writing a column for the San Francisco Chronicle on politics, movies, art, and anything else on his mind. When he took the podium at the Goldman School of Public Policy recently, he touched on lessons from all those experiences. But, his main focus was the 2018 midterms and the upcoming general election.
Brown began by looking back to 2016, explaining why he predicted Donald Trump would win the presidency. Brown, a lifelong Democrat and friend of Hillary Clinton, says Clinton could have been one of the best presidents in history. But, Brown knew that Trump had the skill and ability to connect with voters in a way Clinton could not. Brown also traces Clinton’s loss across several election cycles, when Democrats lost the House and the Senate during the Obama years.
Trump’s victory however, could be the key to the Democratic Party’s recovery, Brown says. He says Trump has failed to build a coalition beyond his core supporters that voted him into office. That helped Democrats win in states like Michigan and Wisconsin in 2018, where Clinton lost in 2016. Brown also credits Nancy Pelosi with organizing the party to help take back the House. But, in order to keep that momentum going and defeat President Trump in 2020, Brown says Democrats have to identify a strong candidate with the same ability to move voters. He says there are three strong options from California, and one in particular he hopes to see on the ballot.
Conversations with History welcomes UC Berkeley’s Professor Mary Ann Mason to discuss her career as a university official, historian, and lawyer, as well as the changing role of women in academia and society.
Mason says moving to Berkeley at the end of the 60’s raised her awareness of issues, particularly the women’s rights movement, which was just beginning to gain momentum.
She was teaching history at a small college in Oakland when she joined the women’s consciousness raising movement. They held a gathering of women teaching history at four year colleges and they realized what a small group they were. There were only eight of them, in all of California. As for the UCs at the time, Mason reports that there were only 1.3 women historians for each campus.
Throughout her time in Berkeley, Mason watched the equality of women improve. When she got hired as a professor by UC Berkeley in 1989, about 15 percent of the faculty were women, which she reports is a huge improvement from just 2 percent in 1972.
As this scorching summer winds down, take some time to reflect on the extreme heat of these past few summers, with 2010 and 2012 contending to be the first and third the hottest summers on record in the U.S., respectively.
It’s hard to argue against global warming in the midst of a heatwave, but how directly does this extreme weather correlate to our carbon consumption? And what does a rapidly warming planet mean for our future?
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Science at the Theater series includes presentations from climate scientists Bill Collins, Margaret Torn, Michael Wehner, and Jeff Chambers and UC Berkeley economist, Max Aufhammer, who discuss the pace and consequences of climate change.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory presents Seven Big Ideas – 8 new episodes from the popular Science at the Theater series.
The first episode, Seven Big Ideas, features seven Berkeley lab scientists who have eight minutes each to introduce their revolutionary projects to the audience.
Meet Blake Simmons, who has been working on a plan to replace a barrel of oil with plants and microbes. But not just one barrel of oil, he says, his idea is intended to replace all the barrels of oil that keep countries all over the world moving.
He explains that oil produces many products for our carbon economy, such as gasoline, diesel, polymers and more. In order to undo our reliance on oil we have to find substitutes for all of these different products that the oil produces.
Watch “Seven Big Ideas” to hear about his plan to make replacing oil affordable and sustainable, as well as other game changing ideas from Aindrila Mukhopadhyay, Bill Jagust, and more!