How to Defeat Those Who are Waging War on Science

Feb 27, 2017

By Jonathan Foley and Christine Arena

President Trump’s decision to constrain and muzzle scientific research signals an important milestone. The War on Science has shifted into high gear. This is a fight for our future, and scientists as well as citizens had better prepare for what is coming next.

At his confirmation hearings last week, the new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt unveiled the new language of this war—a subtle, yet potentially damaging form of science skepticism. Manmade climate change, he says, is “subject to continuing debate.” There is reason to be concerned about methane released by fracking, but he’s “not deeply concerned.” And research on lead poisoning is “not something [he has] looked into.”

These might sound like quibbles compared to the larger cultural and political upheavals happening in America today, but collectively, they add up to something big.

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19 comments on “How to Defeat Those Who are Waging War on Science

  • It seems no evidence is required for “so called news” to be transmitted on Faux News – so making stuff up, while cynically shouting about “fake news”, is quite OK by them! ( Nothing new there!)

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39113446

    US “at boiling point”: Town halls target Trump’s agenda

    US President Donald Trump has said he believes Barack Obama is behind the protests against Republican lawmakers, and national security leaks.

    He told Fox News: “I think President Obama’s behind it because his people are certainly behind it”, but added: “I also think it’s just politics”.

    Mr Trump offered no evidence for his claims; his predecessor in the White House has not commented.

    Well in his egocentric mind, it couldn’t possible genuine outrage at Trump’s disregard of law, blatant lying, and callous attacks on the people! Could It? 🙂

    Mr Trump also spoke about his budget plans and other issues.

    In his wide-ranging interview with Fox News and Friends, he said:

    .- He gave himself a “C” on getting his message out but an “A” for achievement and “A+” for effort

    .- His plans to boost defence spending by $54bn (£43bn) would be paid for by a “revved up economy”

    That level of “effort” he put into consultations with experts, his determination to seek advice from the best qualified people, and his meticulous checking of facts the likely effects of his executive orders, before signing and making public announcements, probably broke several world records for a US president!!!
    Apparently the “achievement” of signing his name on paper, when nothing but chaos has happened is also rated an “A” by Trump’s own Dunning-Kruger assessment!
    A leader and cabinet from the “Ignorant and Proud” school of non-thinking pseudo-expertise!


    .- He would be a “hypocrite” if he attended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in light of “fake news”

    I think he means FACING an informed crowd of journalists who know he IS a liar and a hypocrite, IS what he is dodging, – but as usual wishes to project on to and blame other people for his cowardice, when it comes to facing critics who might expect rational responses – or even apologies for falsely accusing THEM of putting out “fake news”! ! !

    Of course a danger for the USA, is that foreign governments will also expect apologies which are refused, as the belligerent loose-mouthed and loud-mouthed Trump, becomes persona-non-grata in more and more places.

    Well didums still has his cheer-leader sheeple flocks and his pet Fox to talk to, even after he has aggravated and estranged, any relationship he might have had with the quality press and reputable media!



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  • The thing about a “war on science” is that it is actually a “war on competence” – and that regularly shows in Trumpery!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39113446

    He was asked about the protests faced by some Republican politicians at town hall meetings across the country and not, as our earlier story said, protests about his travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries.

    He said he was certain Obama loyalists were behind both those protests and White House leaks. “In terms of him being behind things, that’s politics. And it will probably continue,” he added.

    Apparently REPUBLICANS questioning his decisions – is Obama’s fault!

    His plans to boost defence spending by $54bn (£43bn) would be paid for by a “revved up economy”

    He was asked for more detail on how he would find the money for the 10% increase in military spending he has proposed for 2018. Proposed cuts elsewhere are unlikely to cover the proposed increase.

    Mr Trump said he would get “more product for our buck” in terms of buying military hardware and would ask for a “form of reimbursement” from countries making use of the US military.

    But he said his overall aim was to grow the economy.

    “We were probably GDP of little more than 1% and if I can get that up to three or maybe more, we have a whole different ball game,” he told the programme.

    Despite Mr Trump’s claim, US government figures show that GDP growth was 3.5% in the third quarter of 2016 and 1.9% in the fourth quarter.

    Yep! Trumponomics, has nothing to do with scientific measurement, mathematical calculations, or providing services to the US public!

    At the end of the link there is an interesting graph showing comparisons of military spending – with the USA already dwarfing all others!



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  • OOOOHHHH!!! I HATE TWUMP! I HATE TWUMP! I HATE TWUMP! I HATE Twump so much that my virtues are signalling!

    Look at how logical I am: hating or bashing everyone who opposes my subjective opinions on politics and never taking a moment to seriously look at the other side’s point of view! It doesn’t matter if they have a legitimate point. I’ve thrown my entire lot in with the radical progressives who don’t believe in biological sex differences, who think that the only cure for the curse of vaccines is homeopathy, who refuse to take any notice of the logical consequences of massive changes in political/social demography, who have such a hatred for nuclear power that they would rather see yet more carbon pumped into the atmosphere than try to safely utilise a carbon-neutral source of power as a bridging gap to renewable energy. I’ve thrown my lot in with these progressives, because at least they aren’t anti-science…

    LOOK AT HOW BIG MY THROBBING, PULSATING VIRTUE IS!!!!!!!



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  • prmcdon #4
    Feb 28, 2017 at 10:48 am

    OOOOHHHH!!! I HATE TWUMP! I HATE TWUMP! I HATE TWUMP! I HATE Twump so much that my virtues are signalling!

    Look at how logical I am: hating or bashing everyone who opposes my subjective opinions on politics and never taking a moment to seriously look at the other side’s point of view! It doesn’t matter if they have a legitimate point.

    If you look over some of the earlier discussions and participate on this site, I’m sure you can in time, improve your logic and consideration of objective evidence.
    You could even work out that with complex issues there are usually more than two points of view.

    I’ve thrown my entire lot in with the radical progressives who don’t believe in biological sex differences, who think that the only cure for the curse of vaccines is homeopathy, who refuse to take any notice of the logical consequences of massive changes in political/social demography, who have such a hatred for nuclear power that they would rather see yet more carbon pumped into the atmosphere than try to safely utilise a carbon-neutral source of power as a bridging gap to renewable energy.

    I ‘m sure if you tried, you could find archived discussions on RDFS specifically discussing sex differences, benefits and limitations of vaccines, massive political changes, renewable energy options, and the safest forms of nuclear power generation – such as thorium liquid salt reactors.

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/04/why-its-time-to-dispel-the-myths-about-nuclear-power/#li-comment-201862

    I’ve thrown my lot in with these progressives, because at least they aren’t anti-science…

    Actually many of the “hippy and tree-hugger” environmentalists, are anti-science – or at least uncritical ideologists.
    They are actually a pain in the neck to real environmental scientists and provide a ready supply of strawmen pseudo-environmentalists, for the polluters and rogue traders to quote in propagandist press articles which hide the real issues from the public!

    BTW: I do strongly dislike greedy, reckless, irresponsible, anti-science, liars, like Trump – but there is abundant evidence of his devious, delusional, and disreputable conduct, for those who look for it objectively – rather than making stuff up as Trump does!



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  • prmcdon #4
    Feb 28, 2017 at 10:48 am

    Perhaps you would like to explain rationally, logically and scientifically, after looking at the graph @#3 of top military spending by various countries, why the USA needs to cut healthcare, research, and services, in order to spend $54bn more on the military to stay competitive!

    @#3 – At the end of the link there is an interesting graph showing comparisons of military spending – with the USA already dwarfing all others!



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  • Those who conduct wars on science, wars on honest reporting, and wars on reality, usually make sly innuendos and generalities, but are notably vague on practical details!

    Here’s a report on trumps speech to Congress.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39123474

    Remarkably unremarkable – Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

    It was a conventional presidential address, delivered conventionally.
    Any other year, that would be unremarkable.

    In the age of Trump, however, where the ordinary seems unlikely, Tuesday night’s proceedings proved decidedly unexpected.

    Many of the ideas were the same – the calls for increased border security, the denunciation of illegal immigrants, the pledge to rebuild the US by buying American and hiring American, the warning that US allies must pay their fair share – but the delivery was smoother. For once, Donald Trump’s delivery was spoken, not shouted.

    As is typical of such addresses, the text was light on policy and marinated in cliches and political pabulum, touching on most of Mr Trump’s agenda in vague generalities.

    The president did lay down some markers, however, particularly on priorities in the upcoming healthcare overhaul, the size of his infrastructure spending plan and, at least elliptically, his support for border taxes.

    In the end Mr Trump did no harm and may have helped ease the concerns of Republicans rattled by a rocky start to his administration. Now Congress has to turn those promises into reality. Even with this speech, it will not be an easy task.

    In other highlights:

    Mr Trump said the US “strongly supports Nato”, but members of the alliance “must meet their financial obligations”

    He outlined a blueprint for an Obamacare replacement that included ensuring access to coverage for those with pre-existing conditions

    Mr Trump promised “massive tax relief for the middle class”, though he offered little in the way of specifics

    He asked Congress to pass a $1tn (£800bn) infrastructure package

    No indications of a realistic basis for balanced funding!
    Massive tax cuts accompanied by a large spending programme??

    The president drew loud applause when he railed against the so-called Islamic State and promised to “extinguish this vile enemy from our planet

    Ah! That’s fixed then!!
    Why couldn’t other governments think of that solution? ! 🙂

    In his concluding remarks, the president – whose political honeymoon has been soured by acrimonious spats with the media – said “the time for trivial fights is behind us”.

    So with his anti science, anti medicine, anti- environment and anti-reality team with their “alternative facts” in place, he laughably calls the radical differences over serious issues, ” trivial fights”!



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  • I see the Democrats quickly spotted the ridiculous nature of Trump’s call for “unity”, trying to trivialise a whole string of his wilfully divisive executive orders, attacks on expertise, and gratuitous lies and insults directed at critics!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39130236

    President Donald Trump preached a message of unity in his Congress address but fails to back that up with action, top Democrats have said.

    He has no plan and has “not reached out to us once”, said the party’s Senate leader, Chuck Schumer.

    President Trump struck an unusually optimistic tone in his first address to both legislative chambers.

    He has had a bumpy first 40 days in office, firing a top aide and having his travel ban halted by the courts.

    On Tuesday night, he said the time for “trivial fights” was over and urged the two parties sitting in front of him to come together to solve the nation’s problems.

    But Mr Schumer listed a number of issues where the president was unwilling, in his view, to compromise or hear their side.

    On the Affordable Care Act, for instance, he said his party was willing to work on making the law better, but Mr Trump would consider only repeal.

    And Mr Schumer said the Democrats had sent the president a plan on improving the country’s infrastructure but had not heard back.

    “The speech and reality have never been more detached in a presidential speech,” he said.

    The Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said “all they have is rhetoric – we don’t have any reality in terms of any legislation”.

    The White House had briefed journalists earlier in the day that the president might compromise on his hallmark issue, immigration, by being open to granting legal status to undocumented immigrants.

    But there was no mention of that policy shift in his speech.

    An abundance hyped rhetoric and absence of detail or substance, was also a characteristic of the speech!



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  • I don’t need to defend any of Trump’s policies, as I don’t support him. That sh!tty baby-like rant (aimed at progressive smarty-pants’ in general, not A4D in particular) was my attempt at highlighting to you that this “platform” has become an echo-chamber for a very few scientific laymen to preach against the current president of the US. Up until this echo chamber crystalised (about 18 months ago, surprisingly…), I was a regular reader and semi-regular contributor (under a different name) to these comment sections. Now it seems as though it is pretty much just Alan and Phil bashing Trump (wow… how brave and novel…) and gish-galloping anybody who steps in to defend a non-progressive political point of view.

    This is why you (progressives) have lost consistently to populists over the past couple of years and will continue to do so over the next couple of decades. It’s sad. I like the current state of affairs no better than you do, but continuing to belittle your opponents will only serve to drive normal people to the right. Please stop this and try to do something constructive. You (all progressives) now have the choice of working with a right wing movement to make a better country or fostering a far right (or worse) one with your condescension and aggression. It’s your choice. Choose wisely.

    Kisses.



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  • Now it seems as though it is pretty much just Alan and Phil bashing
    Trump…

    @prmcdon

    What, no Dan? No Arkrid Sandwich? No Laurie B? I would advise you to read far more deeply than I suspect you have here. The myriad complaints and constructive criticism (not simply “bashing”, which by its very implication suggests unduly severe criticism, though there is also plenty of that, granted) that has been bandied about since this nightmare became a reality, and well before, have come from people concerned with the welfare of their neighbors as well as themselves. Progressives, which you seem to use as a pejorative, harbor the only rational position. Because it’s a forward thinking one. The only constant is change, and all that. It’s not a dusty relic like conservatism which imagines a utopia that never existed and severely limited the rights of a populace who will very soon represent the majority of this country.

    You pretend you don’t support Trump yet your entire post with the exception of one flaccid line stating that “I like the current state of affairs no better than you do” seems to be an effort to quell the conversation. So why don’t you add something to the conversation. A concrete viewpoint; links to support this viewpoint; rhetoric to illuminate your feelings and not just a complaint about specific, well respected users. We shall wait.



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  • prmcdon #10
    Mar 3, 2017 at 10:57 am

    Now it seems as though it is pretty much just Alan and Phil bashing Trump (wow… how brave and novel…)

    Actually Phil and I “bash” the arguments of liars, assertive incompetents, pseudoscientists, and pseudo logicians generally – on the basis of facts, evidence and reasoning.

    and gish-galloping anybody who steps in to defend a non-progressive political point of view.

    You really need to look up gish-gallop as this is what Trump does with his asserted “alternative facts”! Phil and I are noted for producing sound scientific evidence to support what we say – as are others here.

    This is why you (progressives) have lost consistently to populists over the past couple of years and will continue to do so over the next couple of decades.

    Ah! The fallacy of the “label argument” which sticks a label on people or arguments, as an excuse for dismissing them from mind while issues still remain unanswered.

    It’s sad. I like the current state of affairs no better than you do, but continuing to belittle your opponents will only serve to drive normal people to the right.

    There is nothing wrong with exposing and belittling pathetic lame arguments which are propagandist nonsense with no substance to them!

    Please stop this and try to do something constructive.

    This is laughable!

    You (all progressives)

    Back to the non-thinker’s empty label argument?

    now have the choice of working with a right wing movement to make a better country or fostering a far right (or worse)

    Perhaps you could explain what coherent plan “the right-wing” has for making anything “better”! You seem to have missed the point that Trump’s “plans” are all rhetoric and no substance! His “economics” and attempts at “diplomacy” are pure fantasy!

    one with your condescension and aggression.

    Dishonest and incompetent nonsense is for debunking, regardless of how many self-deluding know-nothings cheer for it!
    It isn’t going to work to make anything better in the real world, so pointing this out is the honest option which counters Trump’s aggression!

    It’s your choice. Choose wisely.

    We have done! That’s why we point out the emptiness of the rhetoric and the damage likely from decisions which lack even basic coherent planning!

    Trump fails before he starts, by appointing grossly incompetent people to take charge of government agencies they have no capability to run!

    It is only a matter of time before he becomes such a liability, that the Republican Congress will refuse to support him on progressively more issues!

    Perhaps if you read and understand what we write, rather than closing your mind and chanting “progressives”, you will start to grasp the problems with the Trump administration.

    One current urgently needed investigation, is seeking to establish if you have a Russian stooge saboteur for president!
    Some people might think that is quite important, despite Trump’s denials and whinging about leaks which contradict his administration’s lies!



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  • Science is the explanation of how things work in the real world!

    Those who declare war on science and come armed with rhetoric and “alternative facts”, should expect to have their arguments bashed, and themselves bashed by the laws of nature if they continue to ignore warnings from helpful better informed people.

    Trump has now belatedly discovered that providing medical services is complicated.
    He is likely to discover that all the other issues he waded into with wild promises and executive orders are also “complicated”!

    That’s why refusing to listen to experts, ignoring experts, or appointing ignoramuses to head departments is stupid!



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  • 17
    fadeordraw says:

    “Make no mistake: the War on Science is going to affect you, whether you are a scientist or not. It is going to affect everything—ranging from the safety of the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the kind of planet we live on. It will affect the kinds of diseases we get and the medicines we can use. It will determine our safety and security, and the privacy of our data and personal lives. It will dictate what our kids are taught in our schools, what is discussed in the news, and what is debated in the halls of Congress. It will affect the jobs we have, the kind of industries that thrive here, and what powers our economy”.
    “Do we want to be the America that embraces science and the pursuit of knowledge to advance our health, safety, prosperity, and security, making America the leader of the civilized world?
    “Or do want America to mimic failed regimes of the past, where knowledge and science were deliberately suppressed to benefit a few, to funnel more profits into dying industries, and placate the prejudices of a mob?
    “Do we want to be the America of the space race and the Kennedy era, where anything seemed possible, and our science and engineering prowess was the envy of the world? Or do we want to enter a new Dark Age where science is ignored and muzzled?”
    “Many of us still hold on to a powerful vision of America—the America we grew up in, and still believe in…”
    “Our advice to scientists: Don’t fall for it.
    “To focus on these false divisions is to get bogged down in fights over things like creationism versus evolution, faith versus science, and our different views about our place in the universe.
    “Rather than magnifying these existential differences, scientists and science supporters would be wise to find common ground with people of faith. Given what we are up against, today’s truth-seeking scientists might have more in common with value-driven communities than most people realize.”

    I used all these quotes from the Jonathan Foley, Christine Arena manifesto, incredibly published Scientific American, because they represent non-evidence based fear mongering seeking an American-centric, parochialism that most would find terrifically offensive.

    Firstly, the current anti-scientific political approach is not something that will last forever or get fundamentally ingrained in all aspects of society. Other than short-term silliness, it ain’t an existential crisis.

    Secondly, surely the idea of “Making America Great Again”, as it was Kennedy era, demonstrates a horrible lack of smarts.

    Thirdly, now is the time to reinforce the division between truth-seeking scientists as opposed to, for god sake, “value-driven communities” (creationism, faith…). It is planet living and getting that across continues to be paramount and will be for the foreseeable future. It’s what the RD site is all about.



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  • 18
    Garrick says:

    prmcdon #4
    Feb 28, 2017 at 10:48 am
    LOOK AT HOW BIG MY THROBBING, PULSATING VIRTUE IS!!!!!!!

    My goodness, P. R. McDon! Do you have a penchant for Latin puns? You talk nonsense, but that pun did make me chuckle. So naughty!



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  • fadeordraw #17
    Mar 11, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Secondly, surely the idea of “Making America Great Again”, as it was Kennedy era, demonstrates a horrible lack of smarts.

    Trump is certainly “making America GRATE again” – by pouring sand, grit, and coal dust, into the parts of the well oiled machinery of US government which actually work reasonably well!! 🙂



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