What the Trump Presidency Could Mean for Science
Editorial: a rising tide of economic prosperity could lift science, too, as long as it is honest science serving the citizenry.
The morning after Donald Trump’s historic upset, his opponents in Big Science are strangely silent. They may be in shock. Some science news sites, like the BBC News, are panicking, worried what this will mean for global warming treaties. One guy on The Conversation is blaming Twitter bots for the victory. Mike Wall on Space.com is already telling Trump what he needs to do for space science. Science reporters will be analyzing the historic election for days and weeks, wondering what it portends for their interest group.
There’s no question that scientific institutions were uniformly and shamelessly anti-Trump, as we reported (10/16/16). But the clear victory not only of President-elect Trump but the prospect of all three branches of American government leaning Republican, coupled with that election-night image of a red American map with just a few pockets of Democrat blue, should counsel the wise of the loyal opposition to avoid strident remarks at this time. Anti-Trumpism is impolitic right now for those hoping to get in the good graces of the populist revolution.
Let’s consider some ways in which scientific institutions can be glad Trump won. His theme, “Make America great again,” if successful, will include science. The slow recovery over the last eight years, with its high taxes and unprecedented debt, has put a damper on everything. It’s not just coal miners and manufacturers who have been suffering. Science funding needs a robust economy that can generate tax revenue. When the gravy is plentiful, there’s more to go around. Big Science should welcome a strong American economy. Think of all the rhetoric about America falling behind in science. It’s not because of creationism, as Bill Nye is wont to complain. The whole country has been plodding along for nearly a decade. If you want strong science, make America prosperous again.
Science has also suffered along with everyone else because of insecurity and instability over the past decade. You can’t have science without security. Will your lab fall victim to the next terrorist attack? Will violent student protests hit the science building? Can you have your next science conference without fear? The clearest responsibility of government is the safety of its citizens, and Trump has made the rule of law a priority. Law enforcement agencies are all on his side. If you want strong science, make America safe again.
Honesty will help science. The journals have been fretting about fraud for years. Today on The Conversation, for instance, Marilyn McMahon called for tougher action on fraud. The ethics of a society flow from the top down. According to exit polls, the dishonesty of Hillary Clinton weighed heavily on voters’ minds. It seemed that political insiders could get away with things that would land ordinary citizens in jail. If she had won, her unscrupulous habits might well have tempted many a scientist to cheat, thinking that if our leaders can do it, we can do it. If you want strong science, make America honest again.
Many conservatives feel chains dropping off after this election. Now that the pollsters, the pundits and the naysayers were proven wrong, there’s freedom in the air to say what one believes. Political correctness is trending downward. A light was switched on. The thought police look like pretenders in cheap Halloween costumes, less of a threat, less able to enforce conformity. How will that help science? Well, thought control tends to backfire on its enforcers. Science thrives on transparent, free exchange of ideas. Let’s talk. Let’s debate. Let’s listen to each other. If you want strong science, open up the marketplace of ideas.
Trump is no scientist, but neither was Clinton. She said she “believes in science,” but she couldn’t tell a protein from a proton. What matters for researchers are the policies of the two candidates. Trump has promised to get rid of stifling regulations. While this will undoubtedly help small businesses, the air of individual liberty (under law) will have spillover effects on science. Excessive regulation hurts universities and research labs that, like businesses, have to spend inordinate amounts of money reading, understanding and complying with piles of paper orders written in incomprehensible legalese emanating from unelected bureaucrats. Imagine having more time and money to actually do science. If you want strong science, make America free again.
We expect the secular Darwin-loving scientists to be fretting about a resurgence of creationism. No worries; if it happens, it won’t be because Trump pushes it. Most evangelicals had deep concerns about Trump’s paganism anyway. The President-elect hardly knows anything about the issue, although Vice President Pence might. Trump’s mind is focused on liberty and prosperity for all. The only possible challenges for evolutionists will be (1) needing to justify the expenditure of money on Darwinian research, (2) needing to defend Darwinism instead of assuming it. Trump’s call for school choice will, if implemented, decentralize schools and create more competition in the way science is taught. Public schools will still be guided by science standards adopted by state governments. But what if home schools and charter schools leave public school science education in the dust? Will the Darwin lobby retain the power to dictate what teachers must say about origins? Will a renewal of religious liberty empower Darwin skeptics to articulate their views more in public?
We call on Darwinians to enter the debate. They may not be able to rest on their presumptive authority much longer. The consensus could shift in the new era of transparency (see 10/31/16). This is nothing to fear for a true scientist. Any theory that has to rely on consensus looks weak. If Darwinian evolution is solid, it can withstand scrutiny. Make your case. Show people the evidence. Give it your best shot. Good luck.
For scientists who supported Hillary Clinton, have a good cry for a day, then think about these points. There’s no reason to fear. There’s every reason to embrace the future. If America is great again, science will be great again.
—David Coppedge, Editor
Nature let loose with unmixed venom already. In a piece by Jeff Tollefson, Lauren Morello and Sara Reardon, the rag presumes to speak for all science by saying, “Donald Trump’s US election win stuns scientists.” Scientists? What scientists? All scientists? Some scientists? Globalist socialist UK scientists? Come on, that’s a very unscientific sample. We find out right away what they mean: scientists who push global warming agendas. One observer quoted thinks, “China could emerge as the global leader on climate change.” Wonderful. More power to them. Since they commit most of the pollution, let them clean up their act first. Then let them kill their economy by letting globalists tell them how to run their country.
The editorial is also unscientific by calling him “the first anti-science president” as if Trump is opposed to capillary action, gravity or DNA. Good grief; this over-the-top hit piece is a slap in the face to the millions of Americans who voted for him. They quote only the most vicious Clintonians and Obamaniacs: “This is terrifying for science, research, education, and the future of our planet,” tweets a postdoc who wants to go back to Europe after the election. Please go, María Escudero Escribano. We’ll buy your ticket.
Nature had none of the grace and humility that Trump showed in his acceptance speech. Even Hillary Clinton was magnanimous in defeat, calling all citizens to support Trump and give him a chance to succeed. Nature was nasty! Those pinko globalist materialists need to keep their grimy socialist claws out of American politics. They do not speak for all scientists. If science funding soars in a roaring Trump economy, we hope they will come trembling back like meek little kittens. In the meantime, an educational tour of their version of utopia would do them good. Venezuela.