Pushing Back Against Alternative Facts and Embracing the Role of Emotion, with Dr. Annelise Riles – Ep #36

We’ve all heard the phrase “Alternative facts,” advanced by the current Administration – what can scientists and researchers do to push back? How do we avoid confusion and mixed messages when it comes to concrete data and scientific findings? Here to share her valuable perspective on the topic of alternative facts is Dr. Annelise Riles.

Annelise is a leading global interdisciplinary anthropologist and legal scholar. She is the executive director of the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Studies at Northwestern University, enhancing Northwestern’s reputation for cutting-edge, interdisciplinary programs and research on globally relevant topics.

Dr. Riles is also the founder and director of Meridian-180, a multilingual forum for transformative leadership. Its global membership of 800+ thought leaders in academia, government and business work together to generate ideas and guidance on the most important problems of our time.

Annelise received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, a Master of Science degree in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics, a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School, and a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of When Science Speaks

  • [0:45] Mark welcome his guest, Annelise Riles.
  • [2:50] Annelise explains why she started Meridian-180.
  • [10:00] Combating “Alternative Facts.”
  • [14:45] Should we discard emotion for logic?
  • [18:10] Why collaboration is essential to international engagement.
  • [23:00] What can you do to be part of the solution?

Connect with Annelise Riles

Combating alternative facts

Did you know that the rise of alternative facts isn’t unique to US politics? From Brazill to China, our international friends are dealing with an assault on scientific and historical facts. What is the responsibility of the scientific community to push back against alternative facts? While the task at hand is daunting, we’ve got amazing leaders like Annelise Riles leading the way – working to find solutions that work.

One solution that Annelise points to is creating intentional and meaningful collaborative relationships with international communities. Where we may not have a lot of similarity in cultural or political conversations – scientific truth is one area where can build solidarity on an international stage. Annalise is hopeful that her work with Meridian 180 will facilitate and build upon these international relationships so we can push back against the ongoing assault on science.

Why we should embrace the role of emotion in public policy

Too often, the prevailing narrative in the media is that emotion and logic can’t work hand-in-hand. Have you adopted that line of thought? What if there was a way to harness the raw power of emotion and channel it to further logical and science-driven policies? If that sounds too good to be true – don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Emotion and logic are often seen as opposing forces – but that doesn’t have to be the case.

One great example that Annelise touched on in her conversation with Mark is the topic of climate change. Leveraging the raw emotional argument to protect and advocate for the environment is a great way to get people on board when a logical approach might not. We need to move away from the binary choice of either logic or emotion – remember we are integrated beings – we use both reason and feelings to make decisions.

To hear more about Annelise’s fascinating journey and the work she is passionate about, make sure to listen to her full conversation with Mark on this episode of When Science Speaks.

Connect With Mark and When Science Speaks


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