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At Caltech, Leadership Pasadena Discusses Fake Science and Fake News

Published on Monday, March 6, 2017 | 5:30 am
(Left) Trity Pourbahrami and Gordon Squires, PhD of Caltech, (Upper Right) Luther Beegle, PhD explaining the MARS 2020 mission to Leadership Pasadena class at Caltech, (Lower Right) Leadership Class of 2017 with Trity Pourbahrami and Gordon Squires at Caltech

Astrophysicist and Leadership Pasadena Alumni and past Board President Dr. Gordon Squires opened the Leadership Pasadena science session at Caltech telling the class that 75% of women and 66% of Ph.D.’s believe the first news article they read or heard. And then he told them … none of that was true. He made it up. With that, the class began an in-depth discussion on what news is real and what is “fake news” and what science is evidence supported and what is “fake science”.

“I thought the percentages were extreme but, heck, it was Gordon. He’s brilliant and a LP alum, so I believed him. Wow, I was dumb!” according to Cindy Bengtson, member of the Leadership Class of 2017.

Dr. Squires and Trity Pourbahrami, Director of Communications for the Engineering and Applied Sciences division at Caltech and Leadership Pasadena Alumni and past Board member provided concrete tools to help the class evaluate “news” and “science” articles. Case studies were also worked on requiring the participants to defend both sides of controversial scientific projects currently drawing public opposition.

According to Pasadena Firefighter Tim Sell, member of the LP class, “This was an amazing day… being surrounded by some of the world’s most brilliant minds… challenging me and the Leadership Pasadena class on information gathering and using scientific theory to test our information gathering on everyday news events, complicated environmental and other issues and commercial claims on health products, medicines and more.”

The class also discussed the upcoming Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine with Dr. Mark Klau, Vice Dean of the School of Medicine; clinical and process research done by Huntington Hospital with Dr. Gabriella Sherman, VP of Clinical Innovation and Performance Improvement at Huntington and Linda Searle-Leach, RN, Ph.D., Director of Nursing Research and Innovation at Huntington; the societal importance of design and innovation from Mark Breitenberg, PhD of Interactivism and Innovate Pasadena; the history and power of the non-profit STEAM: CODERS by Raymond Ealy, Executive Director of STEAM:CODERS.

Luther Beegle, Ph.D. head of JPL’s SHERLOC on Mars 2020, educated all on the complex details and goals of the Mars mission.

The session concluded with a private, behind the scenes tour of Caltech.

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