For the first time, President Trump is giving a speech to a joint session of Congress*. Since the President has a habit of keeping us all guessing, here is a wish-list of things we would like to hear Mr. Trump talk about.
science and politics
Politics makes utter fools out of otherwise rational people. The vitriol aimed at President George W. Bush by his political opponents caused psychiatrist and political commentator Charles Krauthammer to coin the tongue-in-cheek term "Bush Derangement Syndrome." It caught on. Pundits subsequently seized upon the terms "Obama Derangement Syndrome" and "Trump Derangement Syndrome."
A co-founder of the "March for Science" says that it's "time for everyone to get on board." Okay, sure. We'll get on board – pending satisfactory answers to serious science policy questions.
Results of a recent "right track-wrong track" poll of Americans aren't just negative; they are overwhelmingly and embarrassingly negative. Moreover, the idea that the nation has been heading in the wrong direction has been holding sway for years. Pessimism is in high gear, and at the center of this perfect storm is social media.
While a march to support science sounds like a good idea, given the agenda our Alex Berezow has decided to skip it. He had misgivings that the event, now scheduled for April 22 in Washington, DC, would be hijacked by the kind of political partisanship it should instead be concerned about – and that has indeed come true.
A grassroots science movement has amassed a gigantic following on social media, which in turn has resulted in substantial mainstream media coverage. The site, still in development, states that "anyone who values empirical science" can participate. That's good. Unfortunately, other statements are sending mixed messages.
Science is one of the few institutions in America that has largely remained above the hyperpartisanship gripping our nation. However, there is a small but growing perception among Americans that scientists are becoming politically biased. Indeed, surveys have confirmed that Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans in academia. And, over the last few months, the behavior of high-profile scientific journals has only served to reconfirm these perceptions of bias.
Vivek Murthy recently announced that e-cigarettes pose a "major public health concern," adding that "the use of nicotine-containing products by youth, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe." But that's not what the science says. It'd be far better for the Surgeon General to say that those who don't currently vape shouldn't do it, bit, but that e-cigarettes are likely to prove much safer than regular cigarettes.
The position of Science Czar is just one of thousands that President-Elect Trump must consider in the coming weeks. The incumbent, John Holdren, was a flawed choice. His fringe views on demographics and environmental policy, expressed in a book he co-authored with Paul Ehrlich (who notoriously wrote the now discredited The Population Bomb), should have disqualified him from the post.
Nate Silver, statistician and election forecaster, told ABC News that election forecasts that gave Hillary Clinton a 99% of chance of winning didn't "pass a common sense test." That is certainly true. What he left unsaid -- possibly because it wouldn't be good for his career -- is that all election forecasts that provide a "chance of winning" don't pass the science test.
During a recent monologue Bill Maher instructed America on the importance of knowledge. He's right, of course, but the talkshow host is a rather imperfect messenger: Listening to him is like receiving a lecture from Bill Clinton or Donald Trump on the importance of marital fidelity. Maher's political viewpoint was illuminating, but probably not in the way he had hoped.
Unbeknownst to David Seidemann, a Brooklyn College geology professor and ACSH scientific advisor, he was placed on a "hit list" by the academic politically-correct mafia. In an article for Minding the Campus, Prof. Seidemann recalls a chilling tale in which he was investigated by the administration for alleged misconduct.