Back in 2016, around the time of Trump’s surprise election triumph, we published a collection of some of the most ridiculous anti-science comments the incoming Commander-in-Chief had said. It was unclear at that point how severe the damage to America’s scientific legacy would actually be, but the list neatly demonstrated that the White House was hardly going to be home to a person well versed in factual information.
Now – putting the horror show of the degradation of American science aside for a moment – we regret to inform you that it's time for an update. Unsurprisingly, the man who peeked at the eclipse without any protective eyewear has had a few things to say about science since his inauguration.
As it happens though, the President has only infrequently referenced science during his first year in office, presumably because he has little interest in either. Whenever he does have a stab at it though, without any exception we’ve yet to find, he gets the science partly or entirely wrong.
So, for all you masochistic people out there, here are the high/lowlights: science, according to President (sigh) Trump himself.
During a typically bizarre sit-down interview with The New York Times shortly after Trump won the Electoral College vote – something that one NYT correspondent described as “less cerebral” than Obama’s 2007 equivalent chat – the topic of wind came up.
Mentioning that he has “a problem with wind”, the then President-elect went on to claim that “the wind is a very deceiving thing”, before having a bit of a bemusing rant about steel-bound atmosphere and wind turbines, the latter of which he thinks ruins golf courses and kills not some, but “all the birds”.
(Fun fact: although around 300,000 birds in North America die via wind turbines annually, cats kill as many as 3.7 billion. We’re not sure what Trump thinks about cats, though.)
Speaking of wind, when one of the three terrible tropical cyclonic triplets of 2017, Hurricane Irma, was barreling down toward the US, the President declared “we’ve had bigger storms”.
Although this turned out to be the most powerful Atlantic Ocean storm on record, you could argue that there have been more damaging and more deadly hurricanes in the past – but that’s not the point really. It’s all a little meaningless because “size” isn’t everything, but what else would you expect from this particular president?
He also added that he “never even knew a Category Five existed for hurricanes.” Now, hurricane categories are based on the somewhat flawed Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, and a Category Five is the (current) highest level on that scale. The President would know this if, of course, he had a science advisor in the White House to tell him such things, but hey ho.