The politics of science - and the science of politics
By Dan McLaughlin
Scientists are walking out of their labs and marching on the streets to voice their concern about Donald Trump and the Republican Party's attack on scientists.
They will march on Washington and 500 other cities across the world on April 22. Forbes reports that the grassroots movement was born of "outrage against the Trump administration’s stifling of science".
One of the attacks is the Honest and Open New EPA Science Bill, according to Think Progress. The House of Representatives voted to significantly limit the science that the Environmental Protection Agency can use when creating regulations.
The Honest Act prohibits the EPA from using any data that is not publicly available, requires all scientific studies to be replicable, and access to redacted personal data or trade information would require a confidentiality agreement. Only three Democrats voted for the bill while seven Republicans voted against.
Pew Research found that over half of US scientists are Democrats, with only six per cent supporting the Republicans. More scientists support independent candidates than those from the GOP.
The Republican Party has become the "de facto political organisation for anti-scientific rhetoric", argues IFL Science. The President is sceptical of vaccine safety, the GOP largely are unsure of climate change, and Donald Trump is even uncertain about how wind works.
The San Francisco Chronicle suggests that the Trump administration's strategy to attack science is not outright denying empirical evidence, but by casting doubt.
"When you can’t win a debate with facts, it’s easier to cast doubt and interject confusion into the conversation.
"So it’s not surprising that President Trump and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt frequently use words to suggest that climate change might not be real, routinely saying “we’re not sure,” despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary.
"The goal here isn’t to discover the truth, but to muddy the waters, and delay action as long as possible."
Republicans are less likely to believe the effects of global warming are already occurring, with 69 per cent denying it - compared to 33 per cent of Democrats.
Slate calls the lack of Republican scientists a problem. They argue that scientific facts are not "red or blue" - so why should the truth be politicised?
An anti-science stance can be seen as a badge of honour for some Republicans, argues the New Republic. By drawing the ire of liberals, it can be a "coveted mark of one's conservative bona fides".
With an administration that believes in "alternative facts", the clash between scientists and Donald Trump's presidency was seemingly inevitable. One believes in empirical evidence, where facts are plainly spoken, whereas the other - unlike its politics - is liberal with the truth. During the now-famous Sean Spicer press briefings, the White House press secretary admitted: "I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts." That sort of logic does not sit well with scientists.