Reed Scherer

Perspective: That Other Pandemic

Jul 24, 2020
Maria Lysenko / Unsplash

The national pandemic continues. You think I’m talking about coronavirus? I’m talking about guns.

Two new studies by the Brookings Institution and University of California, Davis show a nearly 50% spike in gun sales in the US during the last 4 months -- nearly 4 million in June alone, and 19 million sold so far this year. Two main things seem to be catalysts: Covid-19 and the largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protests. (Yes, despite the media focus on instances of violence and looting, the vast majority of the nationwide protests were peaceful and lawful.)

Perspective: A Uniquely American Crisis

Jul 9, 2020
Bonnie Taylor / Pixabay

We’re all suffering from outrage fatigue, making it hard to pay attention to all the new outrages. But please don’t miss this one. Trump, in a masterstroke of “two-for-the-price-of-one awfulness” managed to put bullseyes on both international students and university budgets.

Perspective: Support BLM Like You Mean It

Jun 11, 2020
photographer unknown, in Scherer family collection

“Black Lives Matter” is not just an expression, it is a fundamental truism in any fair society. It's deeply resonant because of the inherent and systemic injustice and violence that remains prevalent, and particularly commonplace in police forces around the country. But racists, in their willful ignorance, just don’t see it. Most racists probably don’t even know that they are racists.


In 1903 W.E.B DuBois wrote “Either America will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States.” 

Niek Verlaan / Pixabay (edited)

Halfway into President Trump’s first year in office, WNIJ broadcast my Perspective calling for the Democrats to do a better job of marketing their strengths, which include competent leadership and positive, though incremental, progress toward more freedoms and fair treatment for all. 


Reed Scherer


It continues unabated. The past 5 years were the hottest on record -- again. Australia is on fire and ice is melting at both poles. Meanwhile, despite having solar panels and buying carbon offsets my carbon footprint is still awful. I recently returned from a luxury cruise to Antarctica, a far cry from my usual Antarctic research expedition.

Perspective: The Quiet, Competent Ones

May 22, 2019

I grew up in a family in crisis, feeling barely noticed and preferring it that way. I probably seemed shy, but mostly I was just convinced that there wasn’t much point in speaking up because I figured nobody would listen anyway. 


It's Time To Get Evangelical About Voting

Oct 29, 2018
Claire Buchanan

If you’re hearing my voice you’re probably a regular NPR listener. While I don’t have data to support this, I’m assuming that most of you vote on a pretty regular basis. So if I implore you to vote on or before November 6th it won’t have much impact. But it’s important to remember that most people don’t listen to NPR regularly and don’t vote regularly. So if you care about our democracy it’s important to be evangelical about voting rights. Spread the word, even if doing so is not easy for you. It’s no longer enough to just vote yourself.

Paleoclimatology: What’s Past May Not Be Prologue

Sep 17, 2018


Most people have heard the most famous line from Shakespeare’s The Tempest: “What’s past is prologue”. It’s often used to imply that history determines the future. But the real meaning is made clearer by the line that follows: “What to come, in yours and my discharge”.

What it means in context is that all of the past leads to this moment. And all that will happen depends on what we choose to do right now.

In a Perspective broadcast a seeming lifetime ago - last year - I offered up a suggestion to the opposition party, which is eternally, almost comically awful at branding and self-promotion.

An Atheist Asks A Question

Jun 6, 2018

I’m a lifelong atheist, but I mean no disrespect when I ask, “What would Jesus do?”

In the 1990s, conservative Christians -- often pointing fingers at Bill Clinton -- made a thing of asking this question in the name of Family Values. Funny, I haven’t heard that question asked lately.

I’m certainly no biblical scholar, but my understanding is that Jesus led poor people to believe they are worthy of lives of dignity, and that injustice must be challenged. It was a philosophy not of tribalism, but of Evangelicalism – live a moral life and spread the Good Word.

'Tisn't The Season It Should Be

Dec 13, 2017

The WNIJ Perspectives series provides a welcome platform for members of the community to weigh in on the topics of the day. Many of the Perspectives relate to our shared humanity, rather than being explicitly political. 

My first Perspective, in 2015, was a fact-laden but light-hearted rebuttal to Dan Libman’s assertion that the chicken came before the egg. Dan Klefstad dubbed this Perspectives pair the Poultry Slam, and WNIJ is considering making it a Thanksgiving Day tradition.

Poultry Slam, Part Two: Egg Came First

Nov 23, 2017

This Thanksgiving we revisit two Perspectives from our archives in which the authors debate an age-old question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Dan Libman threw down the gauntlet with an essay from Feb. 6, 2015 (included at the bottom of this post). It was swiftly followed by this rebuttal from Reed Scherer. Enjoy this Poultry Slam!

Dan, I appreciate your perspective on this age-old question, but I’m afraid your interpretation is foundationally, logically, and fundamentally incorrect.

What Will Win The Next Election?

Aug 30, 2017

Republicans win elections largely because they beat the pants off Democrats on branding and sloganeering. Have you heard the latest Democratic slogan? Yeah, me either.

Branding doesn’t need to be flashy, but it does need to be memorable; and personally, I’d like it to be accurate. That’s why my nomination for the Democrats is “Competent Leadership,” along with its direct corollary, “Positive Progress.”

Not exciting, but simple and historically kinda accurate. Democrats love governing, and they actually aspire to deliver Positive Progress.

Facts And Science Deserve Attention

Jun 28, 2017

Do I really need to point out that facts are true and “alternative facts” are lies? Real news is not fake and fake news is not real, though both exist. 

I feel sorry for Fact Checkers these days. They must be exhausted, many succumbing to PFSD (Post-Fact Stress Disorder).

An April March For Our Future

Feb 15, 2017

Public rallies in support of science will take place in Washington, Chicago and across the country on Earth Day. Despite current government actions to the contrary, the majority of the public understands that our future requires rational analysis of complex issues.

Scientific understanding is built from inquiry and tested by empirical evidence. If the evidence indicates that the initial idea is flawed, it must be rejected.

State Budget Woes Imperil Education

Jun 15, 2016

A bit more than a week ago, the New York Times ran an opinion piece on the impact of the ongoing budget crisis on public higher education in Illinois, drawing national attention to the petty, partisan power game between the governor and the legislature.

Personally unaffected by the gridlock and intransigence, they persist -- leaving university communities feeling the pain and suffering the indignities of uncertain futures.

Clean Environment Needs Accountability

Jan 27, 2016

“Are America’s waterways more polluted than they were 40 years ago or less polluted?”

When I ask my students this question, more than 97 percent regularly answer it incorrectly, because there is a generally pessimistic assumption that things only get worse. They have no idea how much better things became as a direct result of a robust and vocal environmental movement, and the subsequent establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, in the 1970s.

NIU Today

A fish found under a half-mile thick ice sheet in Antarctica could imply so much for Northern Illinois University scientists...including extraterrestrial life.

Another Take On That Egg-Vs.-Chicken Thing

Feb 13, 2015
Dan Klefstad

Editor's note: NIU faculty member Dan Libman presented his Perspective on the age-old question of the sequence in which chickens and eggs arrive. It was somewhat tongue in cheek, but one of Libman's colleagues offered this more serious riposte:

Dan, I appreciate your perspective on this age-old question, but I’m afraid your interpretation is foundationally, logically, and fundamentally incorrect.

NIU Today

A group of Northern Illinois University researchers are bound for Antarctica to study the effect of climate change on rising seawaters.

The trip was halted earlier this year due to the partial government shutdown.

It's a green light now.