THE PRESIDENT: If I had the perfect answer to that, then I’d run for President. (Laughter.) Look, this takes us a little bit far afield, but I do think that it’s relevant to the scientific community, it’s relevant to our democracy, citizenship. We’re going to have to rebuild, within this Wild, Wild West of information flow, some sort of curating function that people agree to.
I use the analogy in politics -- it used to be there were three television stations and Walter Cronkite is on there and not everybody agreed, and there were always outliers who thought that it was all propaganda, and we didn’t really land on the Moon, and Elvis is still alive, and so forth. (Laughter.) But, generally, that was in the papers that you bought at the supermarket right as you were checking out. And generally, people trusted a basic body of information.
It wasn’t always as democratic as it should have been. And Zoe is exactly right that -- for example, on something like climate change, we’ve actually been doing some interesting initiatives where we’re essentially deputizing citizens with hand-held technologies to start recording information that then gets pooled -- they’re becoming scientists without getting the PhD. And we can do that in a lot of other fields as well.
But there has to be, I think, some sort of way in which we can sort through information that passes some basic truthiness tests and those that we have to discard because they just don’t have any basis in anything that’s actually happening in the world.
And that’s hard to do, but I think it’s going to be necessary, it’s going to be possible. I think the answer is obviously not censorship, but it’s creating places where people can say, this is reliable and I’m still able to argue about -- safely -- about facts and what we should do about it while still -- not just making stuff up.