Shawn Lawrence Otto

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Otto in 2017

Shawn Lawrence Otto (born April 21, 1961) is an American novelist, nonfiction author, filmmaker, political strategist, speaker, science advocate, and screenwriter and co-producer of the movie House of Sand and Fog.


Otto in 2011

Otto lives on a hobby farm near Marine on St. Croix with his wife, Rebecca Otto, a former Minnesota State Auditor and 2018 candidate for Governor.[1][2] Their home, called "Breezy", is passive and active solar, geothermal, wind-powered, and super-insulated. Otto designed it, and the couple built it with their own hands. Otto's family forefather, C.D. Gilfillan, co-founded the Republican Party of Minnesota.[3]

Otto is a past (2009–2011) Board Chair of the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.


  • Otto is the author of Sins of Our Fathers[4] (ISBN 978-1571311092), a critically acclaimed novel published in 2014 that received a starred review by Publishers Weekly[5] and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.[6]
  • Otto is the screenwriter and coproducer of the DreamWorks movie House of Sand and Fog which starred Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly and garnered three Academy Award Nominations.
  • Otto's 2011 book Fool Me Twice: Fighting The Assault On Science In America (ISBN 978-1605292175) received starred reviews from both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.[7]
  • Otto's 2016 book The War on Science: Who's Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It (ISBN 978-1571313539), with a foreword by Lawrence M. Krauss, discusses three well-funded aspects of the war on science that impact public policy: identity politics, ideology, and industrialization.[8] The book won the Minnesota Book Award for General Nonfiction, in 2017.[9]
  • Otto has his own blog, Neorenaissance, and blogs regularly on Huffington Post.
  • Otto's work has been published in Science,, Huffington Post,, Issues in Science & Technology,[10] New Scientist, Scientific American,[11][12] and other outlets.

Science debate[edit]

During the Hollywood writers' strike in 2007 and 2008, Otto co-founded and became the CEO of the Science Debate 2008. Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain participated in the debate.

Notable public appearances[edit]

Otto delivered keynotes at the 45th annual Nobel Conference, on "Democracy in the Age of Science",[13] at the United States National Academies, on "Examining the Mistrust of Science,",[14] the New York Academy of Sciences, the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF), the European Conference of Science Journalists, and countless other conferences and colleges and universities. He has discussed science and politics on National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation: Science Friday several times and on television and radio throughout the world.

Awards and honors[edit]


  1. ^ "Shawn Otto, spouse of Minnesota's auditor, writes first novel, but he's no novice". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  2. ^ "State auditor Rebecca Otto to run for governor". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  3. ^ Smalley, Eugene Virgil (1896). "A History of the Republican Party". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "2014: Los Angeles Times Book Prizes Winners & Finalists". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Radford, Benjamin; Frazier, Kendrick (January 2017). "The War on Science: Who's Waging It, Why It Matters, and What We Can Do About It". Skeptical Inquirer. 41 (1): 61.
  9. ^ "Minnesota Book Award Winners & Finalists". The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library. The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  10. ^ "Perspective: Science on the Campaign Trail". Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  11. ^ "A Plan to Defend against the War on Science". Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  12. ^ "Antiscience Beliefs Jeopardize U.S. Democracy". Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Examining the Mistrust of Science". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  15. ^ "Minnesota Book Award Winners & Finalists". The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library. The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  16. ^ "Minnesota Book Award Winners & Finalists". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  17. ^ "Tribeca Film Fest Announces Tribeca/Sloan Screenplay Winners". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  • de Turenne, Veronique (January 5, 2004). "House of Sand and Fog". Variety.
  • "Star Tribune, Minneapolis, C.J. column". Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News. August 3, 2006.
  • Boyle, Alan (October 20, 2008). "Science goes under the political microscope". MSNBC.

External links[edit]